Using News Reports in Language Education

Using News Reports in Language Education

Matthew Michael Foley-Ryan (University Francisco de Vitoria, Spain)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2724-4.ch003


The proliferation of news outlets with a digital presence in recent years has enabled language education to embrace current affairs in (and outside of) the classroom at a level which classic language-learning text books simply cannot rival. The inclusion of such material as a means of instruction allows language education to be as connected to the world in which students inhabit as possible. This chapter details how news reports, be they in video or textual form and obtained online, can be used in language education in a variety of ways. Clear instructions of how news reports have been successfully used in language classes, methodology and the exploration of learning results enables replication by other teachers, as do indications of how to adapt material to suit differing student profiles, classroom activities and language levels.
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Solutions And Recommendations

It is important that teachers recognise the complexities of challenges or problems that may hinder meeting academic objectives and accordingly adapt material to suit the students’ individual needs. The author will suggest ways in which material can be adapted to suit a range of needs and language levels. News reports for instance, lend themselves readily to language classes, in the sense that they differ in length and use of language, depending entirely on the publication or broadcaster (producing them). Where a two-minute video news report can be shown to a low-B1 group with the sole objective of asking students to identify specific vocabulary mentioned orally, written newspaper reports from different publications could be exploited in high-B2 classes with the purpose of detecting style differences in the use of language or to note specific grammar points (between publications).

The use of authentic material in language classes must be approached with care and sensitivity by teachers and with the awareness that for some students, material designed for a native audience only compounds their frustration with the language if they feel overwhelmed by their inability to perfectly grasp content. It is the responsibility of the teacher to carefully select material that is tailored to the needs of students and whose objectives are made clear before the material is introduced. Prior communication to students regarding the importance of focusing solely on the prescribed task and not on elements of content which they do not fully understand will aid engagement with the material and prevent the putting up of barriers to it. It is important to point out that by adopting teaching approaches that actively engage students at the commencement of an activity often result in an augmented learning experience for the students (Yorke and Longden, 2008). Higher education students require encouragement in order to approach the use of authentic material as a crucial component to the enrichment of their progression in the language and to appreciate the satisfaction to be had from using such material. This encouragement ultimately helps to foster a positive attitude towards the language and to learning.

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