Enormous website with loads of listening and reading material.
Breaking News English is one of the most popular free websites for learning English on the internet. It offers news articles in English which are both written and recorded. There is also a mass of learning material based around the articles which is ideal for both the classroom and for helping students to study independently.
The one problem with the site is there is in fact TOO MUCH material and often teachers don’t explore everything that is available. In this latest blog post I will introduce you to Breaking News English, highlight some of the best features and provide a few tips on how to use it.
Daily news in English at your fingertips
If you go to the website you will see recent news articles. BNE is currently producing a new news article every 48 hours and they are normally very topical and interesting subjects. The level is around B2 but if you notice each article comes in at least 3 levels. They use a level system of 1-6 so you can find material that is easier that B2 and some material that is higher than B2.
Click on any story and you will see that story in ‘quick view.’ Quick view allows you to quickly read the article and decide if the level is OK and whether you want to use it. If you scroll down below the article, you will see there are lots of different activities that are linked to either the listening or the reading version. There are many activities to choose from and you have to be selective about what activities you want to include. I tend to just select two or three activities.
Remember when you use BNE you also have access to a sound recording of the news item too. You will notice this in the left hand corner. It is normally the first option. Notice too that you can play the recording at different speeds and you can also download the recordings too. This is really useful if you want to use the listening material in the class, as you don’t have to be connected to a computer.
To download the reading and all the related activities, you need to click on the ‘Print’ button. Sometimes you have an option of a 26 page full plan or a shorter 2 page plan other times you only get the one option.
What materials I use.
You don’t need to have computers in the class to make use of the content in BNE. I simply print out and copy the exercises I am going to use.
I often start by using the listening material and get the students to listen and then work in groups to discuss what they have understood. I sometimes play a slower version of the recording and play the recording at least twice. The students listen twice and then share their ideas on what they have understood. I get one person in the group to write down all the ideas from the group and then I give them a copy of the text so they can compare their ideas of what they heard to the actual news text.
There is so much material to use that one way to think about the material is like this:
Pre listening activity
Your objective here is to get them thinking about the topic and the vocabulary related to the topic. Often students will already know about the news event. I sometimes use material from BNE but sometimes I do my own pre-listening activity.
There are loads of things you can do when it comes to listeningactivities. You might use the T/F questions, gap fill or even the phrase match. Students can’t do a lot while they are listening, so it has to be a short, simple activity. I suggest more complex activities where students have to write answers, should be done as post listening activities
Post listening activity
It is not always 100% clear what is the difference between ‘Post Listening Material’ and ‘Extension Material’. For me post listening activities are still focused on the material the students have been exposed to. So for example it might be writing a short summary, answering comprehension questions or completing or matching sentences. BNE provides lots of material you can use in this way.
BNE has some great extension activities. For me the extension activities are really about going beyond the material you have exposed them to. So relating the topic to something else, getting their opinion, doing some sort of survey or questionnaire for example. BNE provides lots of these. I have found the AB discussions can work really well as do the ‘Role Play’ activities.
If you are in a rush and quickly need to grab some material then BNE can be really useful. It is also really useful if you want to give your students something topical and a break from the book. BNE provides lots of activities centred around listening or reading or even both. You do need to be familiar with the site to get the maximum amount of use out of it but it is worth investing the time.
For a detailed tour of Breaking New English. Watch this quick video!
Russell Stannard is the founder of TeacherTrainingVideos.Com and the Associate Trainer at NILE. He was the previous winner of the Times Higher ‘Outstanding Technology Initiative’, the British Council ‘Technology Innovation Award’ and the University of Westminster ‘Excellence in Teaching Award.’ He trains teachers all over the world, especially in the use of technology in language teaching.