Using English Language Periodicals as Authentic Materials
One of the best ways of teaching or learning English as a second (ESL) or foreign language (EFL) is by using authentic materials which have been prepared for native speakers in real-life conditions. English language newspapers and magazines are typically available in most of the world. At a bazaar or bookstore in Istanbul, a news kiosk in Barcelona, at a cultural center in Bogotá or a street corner in Paris, you can pick up a local, regional or international periodical to use in an English as a foreign language (EFL) class room setting. Here are some suggestions for putting them to good use.
To help you with incentives, suggestions and ideas of what, when and how to use a newspaper or magazine, I’ve scanned through a British English magazine and an American English newspaper to look for ways to extract the maximum use from each. These suggestions might also be applied to online publications as well as other types of foreign language periodicals in both print and digital versions.
The title, issue number and any “teasers” that appear can be used to get an overview of the periodical and start a brief discussion based on prediction. What’s the article going to be about? Who are the people on the front cover? What do you know about them, the place or situation involved?
Table of Contents
Often these contain more detailed information and short descriptions of the articles and features of the periodicals which can help with discussion or prediction activities. Ask the learners which article, section or column they’d most like to read and why.
Full / Half Page Ads
Depending on the content, ads can be used to illustrate verb tenses, describe colors, clothes, materials, etc. If present, additional ad content might include websites, addresses, telephone numbers, dates, times, other contact information, etc., all useful class work themes. Do you or your students use the products, or similar ones? Are the products seasonal? For men or women only? For a particular age group? Available in your area? Why or why not? Work with any adjectives from the ad: either ones that appear or ones that are implied by the photo or product. Advertising photos frequently tend to be exotic or provocative in nature. They can be used in a variety of ways. Be sure to visit websites mentioned in the ad – either during class or as an online assignment.
So no matter what English language newspapers and magazines are typically available in your part of the world; at a bazaar or bookstore, a news kiosk, at a cultural center or a street corner, pick up a local, regional or international periodical to use in your English as a foreign language (EFL) class room. Both you and your learners will benefit. While you’re at it, e-mail me at email@example.com and if you’re nice, I’ll send you a free copy of my e-book, “The Foreign Language Learner’s Startup Guide” by return e-mail.