The Internet TESL Journal

How to Effectively Use News Articles in the EFL Classroom

James Andrew Farmer
jamesandrewfarmer [at]

News articles can be an invaluable resource for teaching intermediate and advanced students. However, teaching a news lesson isn’t as simple as cutting an article from a newspaper and taking it to the classroom. This article proposes a structured approach to teaching news articles in the EFL classroom. Some example activities are also suggested. 


News articles are a good teaching resource for intermediate and advance students. They are real, relevant, current, and interesting.  Like all lessons, news lessons should be structured and have a clear goal. Articles can be used to work on speaking, listening, reading, writing, and vocabulary. Generally, it’s a good idea to focus more on one of these skills, but of course, all skills will still be practiced.

Selection Criteria

The first place to start when teaching an effective news lesson is with the article itself. Teachers should consider the following when selecting an article:

Lesson Structure

As mentioned above, news lessons should be structured. A well-structured news lesson comprises the following six stages: warm up, pre-reading/listening activities, reading/listening to the article, application/follow-up, feedback and correction, and homework. Below I'll present the aims of each stage and suggest some activities. I suggest between 60-90 minutes for a class.

Warm Up

The warm-up should raise awareness of the topic and activate pre-existing knowledge and language. As in regular lessons, Teachers should avoid correcting students here. This allows students to relax, get into English-mode, and to build confidence. Some suggested activities are:


The lesson proper should always begin with pre-reading/listening activities. Unlike the warm-up activities, these activities are directly related to the text and serve to get students interested in the topic, build confidence, and prepare them for the task ahead. It's common for instructors in news lessons to carefully pre-teach the vocabulary. If the focus of the lesson is vocabulary building, this is fine. However, the teacher should ensure that the vocabulary will be recycled in the application. If not, it is not a good use of time. Why are the students spending 10 minutes learning vocabulary they won't use again? However, the focus of the lesson doesn’t have to be vocabulary-building. If the article has been well-selected, written, or edited, it is possible for students to focus on other skills such as reading or listening. If they come across an unknown word, it is a good opportunity for them to develop strategies such as asking others, guessing from context, and building their ambiguity filter.

Here are some suggested activities:

 Listening Tasks

These activities serve to build listening skills. If you want to focus on listening skills, it should be read at least two or three times. Two points to consider when setting listening activities: it's a good idea to move from extensive listening activities to more intensive; and if the students can get all the answers correct the first time, the tasks were too easy. If you are hoping to improve listening ability, the students' listening has to be challenged. Here are some possible listening tasks:

Reading Tasks

These activities serve to build reading skills and the article should be read two or more times. As in the listening activities, it is best to move from extensive to more intensive tasks. This means the students will gain a deeper understanding with each successive read.

Application/Follow-up Tasks

Whatever the focus of the lesson, an effective news lesson should extend beyond the article. The students need to have a chance to use the new vocabulary and/or knowledge in a meaningful, less controlled way. The students should be reminded to use the new vocabulary and/or target language as much as possible. As in any lesson, teachers should refrain from jumping in and correcting during this stage. This is the students' time to apply the new language in a free environment. Any mistakes should be noted for the feedback and correction stage.

Feedback and Correction

The last five minutes of any lesson should be reserved for feedback and correction. Together, the warm up and the feedback and correction stages are the bookends of an effective lesson. Just as the warm up serves to get them ready for the lesson ahead, this stage acts as a cool down where the students can reflect upon what they have learned. It also guarantees that the students leave the classroom with a clear idea of what they have achieved. There are three things that can be covered here:


Homework is important for students to progress in their studies. Most students have little access to English outside of the classroom. Setting homework encourages them to self-study and to re-visit the lesson. This will build retention of new information. Some suggested homework assignments for news lessons are outlined below.


News articles can be a great teaching resource in the EFL classroom if they are structured well and have a purpose.  Teachers can choose their own articles from newspapers or magazines but should bear the proposed selection criteria in mind. Alternatively, teachers can use one of the suggested EFL sites that prepare news materials. Following this lesson structure will lead to more effective and challenging classes.



There are sites that provide news articles for EFL teaching.
Both sites provide lesson plans and an mp3

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. XIV, No. 12, December 2008