Teaching the (Breaking) News

The news, as we have already covered in previous postsĀ (Feb 2014 and May 2014), is an excellent source of material for the language classroom because of its wide range of topics and its relevance to our everyday lives. You can gather news articles or videos from many different sources, but today I want to look at just one, a website called Breaking News English.

Breaking News English is an excellent site that is completely free. There is no need to register or sign in to access the numerous resources available. Although the site itself appears somewhat dated, there is always new material being added, and there are now over 2,000 topics to choose from. Along the top of the page, you can see that the site advertises itself as having free, interactive and printable English lessons in seven levels, and links to more free lessons as well as an ebook that is available for purchase. Below that are categories you can use to sort through the content and a long list of articles. Unfortunately, I have not found a way to search for specific topics through the site itself, but I have on occasion Googled breaking news English and the topic I have in mind, which has been very effective.

So, how can you use Breaking News English? Well, guest blogger, Rebecca Palmer, mentioned it in her post about independent online reading practice, and I often use it with my listening and speaking students, so there are a lot of options.

Independently, students can use the site to find reading or listening material that interests them and then practice reading or listening at one or more levels or even speeds. Personally, I think the speed reading activity is quite exceptional for students to practice reading fluency at home, and I have not seen anything like it on other sites. Besides that, there are many activities that encourage students to engage with the material further and focus on comprehension, spelling, grammar, and more.

As a class, it is so handy to have the same or quite similar content available at multiple levels, especially if your students have varying proficiency levels. You can assign a reading or listening task and ask students to choose the level they feel comfortable with, resulting in a richer discussion later on because, hopefully, all students were able to grasp the essentials. Some lessons even have associated role plays, surveys, and writing assignments that extend the topic beyond the given content. If the type of activity you are looking for is not available, you can always create it, too.

There is so much you can do with Breaking News English, so please do not be turned off by their web design. It will only take a couple minutes to figure out how to best navigate the site and then you will be well on your way toward discovering a seemingly endless supply of material.

What is your favorite aspect of Breaking News English? Share this, another resource, andĀ more by leaving a comment below.

About Tara Arntsen

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen recently completed her Master's degree in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California. She currently teaches in the Intensive English Program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She has taught ESOL in China, Japan, and Cambodia as well as online. Her primary interests are communicative teaching methods and the use of technology in education.
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10 Responses to Teaching the (Breaking) News

  1. AHMAD says:

    Hi Tara;
    It is my pleasure to comment on what you have posted as I am really have the same views as yours and what makes me interested in more are the Breaking News. They are really helpful and make students dependent and authentic as showing such kind of these aspects let students to immerse themselves for the environment of English real life situation.
    Hope to see more to apply in my recent TESOL job.
    I totally agree and I highly recommend in teaching English as a second language.

    • Tara Arntsen Tara Arntsen says:

      Thank you, Ahmad! Have you used Breaking News English with your students? It would be interesting to know what your experience has been with the website and also how students reacted to it.

  2. Ghalia says:

    It is a good site for more authentic materials if you don’t have them in your teaching context. I totally agree with the idea that speed reading is an amazing activity for students to practice their reading fluency. Teachers can use it as a competition in the classroom.

    • Tara Arntsen Tara Arntsen says:

      Thank you for the comment, Ghalia! Print materials are often so expensive and take up a lot of space, so it is fantastic to have more and more resources available online. Speed reading races sound like lots of fun if you have a competitive and motivated group of students!

  3. Frances Bertrand says:

    I agree that the site is really impressive. All materials ready/handy/up to date, and adapted to multiple levels. I will definitely recommend this site at my English Centre (Sydney TAFE ELICOS Centre).

    • Tara Arntsen Tara Arntsen says:

      Thank you, Frances! It is amazing how much material is on the site and how frequently it is updated. I am sure students can find topics that interest them. It would be great to get your feedback on using it too.

  4. Audrey says:

    Fantastic site. Thank you.

    • Tara Arntsen Tara Arntsen says:

      Glad you like it, Audrey!

      • Audrey says:

        I’m currently using this site, Breaking News English, for an adult student of mine who lacks motivation. This has engaged him and he’s excited by the different types of exercises.
        Thank you,

        • Tara Arntsen Tara Arntsen says:

          That’s great! My students are often more motivated when they get to choose topics and activities that interest them too. Most sites just don’t seem to have as many options to choose from as Breaking News English. Another site he might enjoy is News in Levels.

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