The news, as we have already covered in previous posts (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, and more by leaving a comment below.