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Category Archives: news

>Korean businesses are trusting TOEIC or TOEFL test scores less and realizing the importance of oral English interview more. Read about it here.

>By Karen Stanley

I suggest trying out the New York Times “Learning Network”.

It’s a free website for teachers. Although designed for teachers in the American public school system teaching grades 3-12, many many activities are highly adaptable to ESL students.

I tend to use the daily lesson plan archives the most. Each day there is a news article with a wide range of activities planned to accompany it.

One of my favorites is an article from December, 2000: “Be That As It Maya” (You can find the particular article & lesson plan by using the “search” feature at the site and typing in MAYA.)

The article is about new discoveries at a Mayan ruin. There are warm-up activities and comprehension questions. My favorite part comes next:

Students break into groups and each group is assigned a Mayan city. They investigate the city via the internet (or other means), then write up a travel brochure as if the city were a current tourist destination. They also make postcards with a picture from the internet (I imagine they could draw one if there’s limited internet access) on one side, and a message on the other mentioning something they might actually have done or seen.

There are also discussion questions, and “extension activities.”

There are also archived lessons specifically for working with the newspaper. For example, in one lesson, “students explore the function of letters to the editor for both a newspaper and its readers. Each student then selects a current event about which he or she feels strongly, reads a related New York Times article and responds to it in the form of a letter to the editor.”

The site also includes news summaries, a daily news quiz, the word of the day, the test prep question of the day, and more…

>By Barry Bakin, Pacoima Skills Center, Division of Adult and Career Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, USA

I’ve become a real enthusiast for role-plays derived from reading passages. In one text that I’m using (Townsend Press’ “Everyday Heroes”) one of the stories relates how a young Mexican boy really wanted to start going to school but his grandmother wouldn’t give him permission because she needs him to take care of the farm.

He sneaks off and starts school (at the age of 9) but his grandmother comes looking for him. She finds him at the school after one week and he sees her approaching. He’s afraid she’ll force him to come home with her, but after a long meeting with the principal of the school, she comes out and says that he can stay, as long as he does all of the chores before coming to class (a two hour walk). The story doesn’t say anything else about the discussion between the principal and the grandmother.

The role-play I assigned the class was to recreate the conversation. What did the principal say to the grandmother that caused her to change her mind? What were the grandmother’s arguments about why the boy had to come home? I was very pleased with the outcome of the exercises. The arguments for education were so heartfelt, but the understanding of the grandmother’s need for him to work on the farm was deep.

The students also did a good job presenting both sides of the argument and then using the right language to talk about reaching a compromise. The students really did great jobs and the best conversations/performances were applauded with real feeling.

If you haven’t tried using a reading passage from a newspaper, book, or website as a starting point for a role-play, I’d urge you to try it with your students.