How To Use Articles To Teach English
Articles Are Good Lesson Materials
As an English teacher, you are always looking for new materials to share with your students: material that is relevant and appropriate for their life situation. As a teacher or tutor trying to relate to your students, the old textbook from 1990 just doesn't cut it. You need fresh material that is well-written and will help in reaching the learner goals.
Have you thought of using hubs? Hubpages offers a variety of topics and writing styles. The material is fresh and always changing, and there are a variety of level of writing to be found.
I presently work as a self-employed tutor for ESL students, and have been looking for suitable articles for one of my students. She is an advanced student and is seeking to improve her vocabulary, reading and writing skills. While doing my daily hubbing, I thought, "why not try some Hubpages articles?" Here are some tips for using hubs for your teaching or tutoring situations.
1. Have the Student Read the Article First
To use a hub, or another article for your teaching session, I find the best strategy is to give the article to the student beforehand, so they have a chance to read it first before you discuss it together. As a tutor, I give the article to the student in the session before and the student has a chance to read it over as homework. In the case of a classroom situation, you may assign the reading as homework, to be read and highlighted the night before. Depending on the student, and your goals, you may or may not have the students look up the definition themselves.
2. Highlight Potentially Difficult Vocabulary
To prepare for the lesson, you should also go through the article and highlight/underline phrases and words that you believe will be problematic for the student. Transfer these words down on a separate piece of paper, with a definition to match. Often, a word, such as condition or match will have several different meanings. Only write down the meaning that is relevant to the context, but be aware that there are several different meanings and that may be confusing to the student.
3. Read the Article Together, Paragraph by Paragraph
Now, together as a class or as a tutor and student, read the hub over together, paragraph by paragraph. With each paragraph, discuss any unknown words or phrases. If the student has come up with the meaning, confirm if they are right or wrong. Give a meaning if necessary. If there are multiple meanings or usages, discuss the different possibilities and clarify why this specific context requires this particular meaning. Take turns reading, so the student(s) has a chance to both listen and voice the words. The teacher should read as well, to act as an example to the students, in proper pronunciation. Depending on your situation, you may also choose to hand the students a copy of the words you have highlighted the night before, with the meanings.
4. Encourage Discussion as You Read Through
Encourage discussion about the actual content of the article -- your goal is that they are reading for meaning and interest, not simply to increase vocabulary. Teaching this way will help the words and vocabulary to be relevant to them and not simply another boring exercise. Plan for discussion time, as well as time to simply to read. When the student has read something beforehand, they will be more confident to read and discuss, than if they have been given a piece to read fresh, without time to prepare.
Step by Step Lesson Plan
So, in conclusion, here are the steps for using hubs for teaching or tutoring ESL/EFL:
- Have students read the hub the night before, highlighting any words/phrases they don't know.
- You, as a teacher, read the piece beforehand and write a list of words/phrases you think will be new to your students.
- In class, or in the tutor session, read through the hub paragraph by paragraph, talking about any problematic vocabulary. Take turns reading, with the teacher reading as well.
- Encourage discussion as you go through.
How To Choose The Articles
There are several things to consider when choosing which pieces to use for your session or class. Here are some factors to keep in mind:
- The level of the students. You must be aware of the level of your students and choose something that will challenge them but not overwhelm them. They should be able to understand at least 70-80% of the article or it will be too much.
- The interests of the students. Choose hubs that you think will be of interest to the students. If they are children, don't make it too serious. Consider their gender, life situation and country of origin. Don't pick items that may be potentially offensive.
- What else you have taught. Consider how this fits in with everything else you are doing. If you are doing a theme, make it fit into the theme. If you are doing simple tutor sessions, try to get a good variety of articles so the student does not get bored.
- The writing level of the writer. Read through the article to make sure the writer uses proper grammar. Not having good grammar would be counterproductive to your efforts! You will recognize certain writers as being competent, largely by their reputation and other efforts.
Get Talking English
Use Other Resources
As a tutor, I have had success using hubs as teaching tools in my sessions. Other sources that I have used include Readers Digest articles and newspaper articles. The idea of using articles can also be adapted to teaching English at the high school or elementary level. As a former high school English teacher, I used articles regularly to help teach reading skills to at-risk students.
Be creative and don't be afraid to use other resources within your teaching materials repotoire. The textbook just isn't enough!
I have also written several more teaching articles, including how to use graphic novels in teaching Shakespeare, a guide on how to use movies in teaching Shakespeare and many other teaching articles.
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