A review of Breaking News English
Looking for English material for your English class can be soooo time consuming. If only there were a site which had plenty of ready-to-use materials which practiced listening, speaking, reading and writing, and was graded for different levels. It would need to be free, too.
Well, the good news is that such a comprehensive materials site does exist. It’s called Breaking News English and it goes without saying that I’m a huge fan. Here’s why.
Why is Breaking News English so good?
At its simplest, Breaking News English condenses real news articles into shorter summary articles. As a teacher, you first choose a story that is likely to interest your class. Then, you choose the story level that will suit your class from 0 (beginner) to 6 (advanced).
Clicking through to the story at your chosen level, you then have two options: you can read it and/or opt to listen. The listening feature is especially good as you can choose a British or American English speaker and also choose the speed of the listening, something I have rarely seen on other materials sites.
Underneath the reading are plentiful exercises to test understanding and to highlight useful words and phrases. There are always tasks that encourage students to work in pairs or groups and discuss issues around the theme. It is likely you won’t get through everything in a one hour class, which is actually a good problem to have.
There are several other extension options alongside each article which may include dictations, an extra grammar focus and spelling checks. So you could use these as fillers if some of your more advanced learners finish quicker than others.
A drawback for me is that the site contains a fair amount of adverts. However, since the site is free (donations are accepted) it is easy to look past these since there is some really good content and the benefit is that a lot of the work is done for you. This is particularly helpful for a new teacher.
How best to use Breaking News English
This site is so good that I don’t try and re-create the wheel. I may use my own warm-up questions but then we launch straight in to a listening or reading, picking the best activities afterwards from the huge range of options.
If I decide I would rather spend lesson time on the listening/reading and discussion, then I can set some of the follow-up activities for homework. The answers are at the bottom of the page which is ideal.
There are other fantastic ESL materials sites out there, but this is certainly the most comprehensive I’ve seen and the one I come back to time and again. Why not see for yourself? Have a look at Breaking News English today.
You might also like: Great homework ideas for ESL students
Considering training to teach English? You've come to the right place. Check out our fantastic accredited TESOL courses and learn how to choose and use materials for your class.
Breaking News English is a site I've also used in English lessons for adult students, either in parts or the mini-lessons, which are not so mini and very complete! Great site for Business English and more serious students.
There's another site I really appreciate for listening/audio lessons and adaptable from about 15-16 years of age (here in France, anyway): it's at http://elllo.org/ and provides many levels of listening exercises and ... more and more prepared lesson plans. You can copy the mp3 audio and use the questions, new vocabulary and Vocabulary Challenge sections as discussion points and, very important, to test what your students understand. I've had some positive feedback from my (young and older) adult students about how they are learning to use new words through these exercises and understand several different English and American/Canadian accents. These are also people with Asian accents speaking English. I use it to start the lesson by introducing the new vocabulary (given in the lessons) and asking students who might know words to explain, in English, their meaning or to find synonyms. Then we listen to the audio 2-3 times, stopping to discuss difficult passages. Students then answer the quizz and after correction ( and re-listening if necessary), go on to the Vocabulary Challenge where they use the new words in a gap-fill. I tend to add more gap-fill sentences to this myself for stronger students. At the beginning of the following lesson I warm-up with some or all of the words learned previously by asking students to make up a sentence using the new word(s). Maybe another useful site to add for some of you out there!
By the way, many thanks to Global English for these informative newsletters which I still follow, even after the many years that I took different courses with you. I still profit from all I learnt and enjoy teaching English to the French from 3-50 years old!!
Nice to stay in touch this way!
As Louisa mentions, you can spend a lot of time searching for suitable material. One website I use is All things grammar - www.allthingsgrammar.com. Very useful, as the name indicates, for grammar points. A variety of free printable PDF grammar worksheets, quizzes and games are available. The worksheets can be used for a short class assessment or homework. Additionally, I like the layout of the worksheets. Another website useful for developing listening is, Listen a minute - www.listenaminute.com. Again as the name indicates, recordings of one minute duration with associated exercises. The material can be adapted. In my opinion this is a useful website for lower level students as, they become used to hearing English. Pronunciation is very clear and speed of delivery is just right. The topics of the recordings are varied and some can be used, with higher levels, to structure a debate.
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