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Nightly News in the classroom
For an advanced level all skills class I have been using news broadcasts for listening practice and conversation stimulus. We decided together what channel, night and time we would watch. They watch and take notes - I encourage them that they don't need to catch everything, just get the gist of the reports. We decided to watch only the first 15 minutes of the news. I tape the program. I might type up a cloze exercise, (I've been using the preposition half of phrasal verbs - then talking about the meanings) or just have the students work in teams to recreat as much of the stories as they can, then present the information. After the listening work is done, we talk about the news. Some students are very curious about aspects of American culture that they see on the news, and this leads to good discussions.
The news in the U.S. has been focused a great deal on the war, and often there is no new news to work with. Last week I made up a listening bingo game - I listened to the commercials and wrote down words and phrases common to all of them- e.g. "zero percent financing", "sale of the century." I handed out blank bingo forms and dictated a set of words for them to write in the squares (make sure they don't write the words in the order dictated) I played the commercials and they covered the squares when they heard the words. Students who covered four in a row first won prizes. Focusing on listening for individual words simplified the work of listening, and encouraged the students that their listening skills are better than they think.
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