Principal practical advices of using mass media, particularly magazines, in teaching English of different levels are given in this article.
Keywords: game, practice, fun, horoscopes, cover, authentic material, graded language magazine.
Magazines are a great source of ideas and materials for teaching and can keep your students interested and talking for hours on a whole range of subjects[1,2,3].
Some practice. Let’s have fun!
A simple way to get students talking and sharing ideas, predicting the content of your lesson and so arousing their interest is the following:
- Cut or copy magazine titles from a range of magazines - football, fishing, computer, teenage, business, mother and baby, housekeeping etc. and put them randomly onto the floor or board.
- In pairs the students have to count how many different types of magazine titles they see and try and work out what each magazine is about.
- After comparing answers with other pairs and feeding back as a whole class you can get them to say which ones they're more interested in and why.
You can then lead onto their reading habits:
- How often do they buy magazines?
- Do they buy particular magazines because of the subjects featured on the front page or because they always buy the same magazine?
- How do they read the magazine - from cover to cover or do they go straight to the featured articles or horoscopes?
- Most importantly, why do they do what they do?
Problem pages are great to use with teenagers as they can relate to the issues being addressed. As a language focus they are also very useful for practicing 'giving advice' models such as: should, could and must, and agreeing or disagreeing.
- Start by brainstorming the kinds of problems you find on a problem page.
- Give pairs a cut up copy of either a problem or the advice given.
- Give them time to read and understand the gist.
They could write a one-sentence summary and then walk around the room reading their sentence to other pairs until they find the corresponding problem or advice. Then in their new groups of four they can decide whether they agree or disagree with the advice given.
Teenage magazines generally have a few articles based on thought-provoking subjects which can really stimulate a class of teenagers.
- With a set of different teenage magazines let the students flick through them until they find an article which interests them.
- Make sure they are careful with the magazines so you can use them again with another class. Also for this part give them a limited amount of time to find an article.
- They should read the titles, look at the pictures and skim the texts to get a general idea of what the article is about rather than read the whole magazine.
- Once they've chosen their article give them time to read it in full. Remind them though that they don't need to understand every word.
If you have a large class, then in groups of four they can take it in turns to tell the others about their article. If your class is relatively small you can feedback in two groups or as a whole class.
Each time someone tells the others about their article pre-designate a couple of people to ask questions at the end. This way they feel more involved and are more likely to listen.
Horoscopes interest a lot of people, young or old, even if they don't always like to admit it! In your English class you can use them to find out about your students' personalities while having fun with the future.
Give your class a list of adjectives from which they choose five that correspond to their personality. If they know each other well they could choose the adjectives for their friends.
Briefly discuss the zodiac signs and the typical traits of each. Then from their choices either you or the class could try and guess what zodiac sign they are most likely to correspond to. If they do know each other very well then this is something they may already know which is why you ask first and then guess yourself if that is the case. You can go on to discuss whether they think they correspond to their zodiac sign or not.
Have a look at a magazine first to be sure you have an idea of the typical traits of each sign. In any case they should know for their own sign.
Find out about their reading habits and whether they read the horoscopes and to what extent it can determine how they plan their day or week. This could then lead on to a reading of the horoscopes for that week from the teenage magazine.
Each person could read their own, as they might do in their own language, and feedback to the class on what they've read. Ask them what tense is most used (the future) and using this tense and the personality traits seen earlier they could create their own horoscopes for someone in the class. If they do this in pairs they'll have another opportunity to speak English.
To decide who they write it for put everyone's names into a hat and then pick them randomly so each pair writes for two people. The final feedback could consist of reading out loud their horoscopes.
Use the cover image to brainstorm words associated with the picture (and probable topics to be found in the magazine).
Look at the headlines on the cover to predict the main topics featured inside. Ask: Which would you read first? For higher levels: What types of words are used to make you want to read?
Choose the best cover from a selection of 4 magazines. Hold a class vote. Which cover do you like best? Why? For higher levels: What makes a good cover?
Using a whole magazine.
Set a time limit for these tasks to encourage students to skim through the publications.
Ask students in pairs to skim through their magazine and list the types of topics covered. Encourage use of headlines and pictures to guess topic types. Compare their topic list with the contents page.
Write the key headlines from all main feature articles on the board and dictate a list of topics or themes. Ask students to match the topics to the headlines on the board. Then check using the magazine.
Provide quiz questions set to a time limit:
Where can you read about dogs?
Where can you find out about British schools?
Where can you read about music?
For intermediate students or above, make questions and then get pairs or groups to make their own questions using your examples:
Which British pop singer is interviewed this week?
What’s the most popular sport in schools?
Which type of food is described in the eating section?
Can you find a new type of clothing in the magazine?
Can you find a flag on page 10?
Choose what you like.
Ask students to skim through and quickly select the article/page which appeals to them most. They can tell their group or class why. This helps you see what types of topic they are interested in for future planning of conversation topics.
Higher levels can choose a short feature and read in their group. Each group then makes an oral summary of the article to report back to the rest of the class.
The difficulty depends on the class level. Use graded language magazines to do this with lower levels and authentic magazines for intermediate level and up.
Give students a list of headlines from the magazine and a sentence/sub headings or short text from each article.
Can they match headlines to the extracts from articles? Do this in pairs.
Select one article or give higher level students the choice. Students imagine they are the journalist who wrote the article. Pairs think of 4 or 5 main questions that the journalist asked to get his information (works well with pop star interviews or descriptions of events or a story of something that happened).
Pool all the questions or put 2 pairs in a group of 4 to pool their questions. Then ask student to role play the conversation between the journalist and his interviewee, using their invented questions and what they have learned from the article. Use short articles for this activity.
Even lower levels can do tasks describing pictures and finding pictures in a magazine even if they are not yet proficient enough to read a real English magazine.
Students bring in a copy of their favorite magazine and describe it to the rest of the class next lesson, saying why they like it.
Magazines are a rich source of authentic materials; they can be very motivating and inspire a wide range of activities. You can bring magazines to class to stimulate interest in British culture, to introduce the topic of media and language or just to help students get to grips with handling a whole publication in English. Have fun and motivate your students!
- Scrivener, J. Learning Teaching : a guidebook for English language teachers / J. Scrivener. - Б. m. : Macmillan, 2005. - 432 p.
- Belenkova, S. A. Human Body Workbook. Part 1. : учеб. пособие для студентов мед. вузов / S. A. Belenkova, O. A. Samofalova, Colin Whitehead. - Шымкент : Б . и., 2011. - 188 + эл. опт. диск (CD-ROM). - ISBN 9965-578-16-8
- Kalybekova, Asma Theoretical and Applied Fundamentals of Kazakh Folk Pedagogy: монография / Asma Kalybekova. - Almaty : BAUR Publishing, 2006. - 324 p. - ISBN 9965-9936-3-7