What is Breaking News English?
Breaking News English is an excellent website founded by Sean Banville, which provides massive English news lessons. Lessons are based on stories of latest world news, and updated every three days. Each lesson has a reading material with downloadable MP3 and PDF files, which follows series of before/while/after reading/listening activities (e.g. filling in gaps/synonym match) and 8 online quizzes. Furthermore, those lessons have covered whole activities of the class, including warm-up and homework related to the reading/listening materials. However, teachers may choose several activities from the whole lesson plan that Banville provides, for it may take hours to finish all activities. And, the most exciting part is that: they are all FREE! Here are some examples from the website.
I would strongly recommend Sentence Jamble and No letters from 8 online quizzies.
Sentence Jamble is a game that user can choose the part of the sentence originally appears in the reading/listening texts. It not only needs learners to have a brief understanding of the whole story, but also sometimes details inside it. The knowledge of English grammar may help as well if content cannot be remembered.
No letter game places all the words into stars. Once the user guesses the right word, stars will be replaced by the word. It is a very interesting game for learners to remember details and even the whole text. Usually function words, such as “a”, “the”, “in” would be guessed at first and then comes detailed notional words.
Relevance to Language Teaching and Learning
Breaking News English is an extremely practical websites for ELT in the aspects of reading, listening, integrated skills, ICT, and communicative classroom, etc. Teachers would only pick activities in the ready-made lesson plans. Those activities cover all four aspects of English skills, reading, listening, speaking (opinion of articles), writing (short essay writing task). What’s more, the lesson can be both traditional paper work associated with communicative classroom and ICT classroom with interesting online activities. It is really a masterpiece for ELT teachers and generously made all resources free by the founder.
Possible Usages in/outside Class
1. All materials can be chosen by teachers to engage mainly reading and listening, ICT, and communicative classroom. Both traditional paper-work classroom and ICT classroom are suitable.
2. For ICT classroom, the teacher can ask students to read/listen to the material at first. Then, students can be divided into groups to finish the online quizzes. Group work can make it quicker and easier. Activities of No Letter and Sentence Jamble can be made of very interesting little competition game for all the groups to fill in correctly in time. However, teachers should be careful about the distractions may be occurred within the groups. It is better that the teacher walk around each group to check their work.
3. Online quizzes can also be homework for students after the teacher gives regular handout activities in class. In addition, teachers can give homework of certain article to students and ask them to do several specific activities themselves and check the achievements next class.
1. Articles and follow-up activities from current news are more suitable for intermediate and advanced students to improve English learning. Young learner and beginners may lose interest according to the difficulty level and website design. Alternative choice can be the website of http://www.listenaminute.com, which provides easier acticles.
2. The purpose of the website is more for ELT teachers, so that students may always follow the guidance of teachers except those who have excellent learner autonomy. Students may not interested when use it to practice English themselves.
3. In my context, I think, teachers may not be willing to or less of capability to give so many papers of handout to every student. Teachers may more likely to stick to existing textbooks, and use these materials occasionally.