Student News of the Year

Paul Tanner, Shiga University

Student News of the Year

Paul Tanner,

Shiga University                                                                                                    


Quick Guide                                                                                                                                           

  • Keywords: Newspaper, third-person, summary, headline, quotation                                                          
  • Learner English level: Intermediate to advanced                                                                                       
  • Learner maturity: High school and above                                                                                       
  • Preparation time: Varies, but is minimal                                                                                                             
  • Activity time: One class period
  • Materials: One or two newspapers, an A3 paper for every student.

Writing a newspaper style article summarizing one or more important activities or events from the previous year is a good year-end activity that allows for student reflection and originality. This is novel, as students have to make a headline and write the article from a third-person point of view. They find the activity interesting and enjoy sharing their stories. Also, as an extension, students could give short presentations in rotating groups summarizing their story and explaining why it was chosen.


Prior to the class, prepare a sample newspaper story and headline written in the third-person and using your name. The story should tell about an important event in your life from the past year. Examples could be: Paul Travels to Portugal, or Excitement at Exile Live. Include a direct quotation if possible. (See sample student stories in the Appendix). Also, bring in one or two recent English language newspapers.


Step 1: First, show some headlines from a recent newspaper. Then, note some of the features of a headline, or elicit features from the class. Features include omissions, absence of articles and prepositions, abbreviations, and so on. Ask students if they can rewrite the headlines as complete sentences.                                                                                                                               

Step 2: Next, have students discuss important news events of the year as well as important personal events. This can be done in small groups for a five-minute discussion, a list-generating activity, or as a ten-minute timed writing.                                                                                                                                       

Step 3: Then, ask students to make some sample headlines in small groups or with a partner.                                                                                                                                       

Step 4: Introduce one or two examples of your own news items, each story being about a paragraph in length (see Appendix).     

Step 5: Ask students to read the example(s), and note the direct quotation, and third-person point of view.

Step 6: Give each student an A3 sized paper, and assign them to write a newspaper story about one or two of their highlights from the previous year.


Extension or follow-up activities are quite flexible with this exercise. Students can be assigned to re-write the article(s) for homework, adding quotations and more detail, or just write a basic summary in class. Students can then explain the ideas they wrote about in small groups or with a partner, with other student(s) asking questions. The stories could be worked into a presentation carousel to share with a larger number of students.


This newspaper project is ideal for multi-level classes, and has a high interest level for students. The activity requires students to apply some newspaper conventions, prioritize topics, and use an unfamiliar structure in the form of the third-person.  This helps students break away from the habit of overusing “I.” Another potential benefit is that teachers can use this as a springboard for going into more detail about using quotations in a narrative or reviewing the structure of newspaper headlines.



Taiga Takes Part in Half Marathon

Last month, a half marathon was held in Kyoto and Taiga took part in it. It was his first time to participate. At the beginning, he ran fast, but after about 17 kilometers, he got tired. He slowed down, and finally walked. Somehow, he finished the race. Afterwards, he said, “After walking, I tried to run again, but couldn’t because my legs hurt. I made a miscalculation. I’ll do better next time.” He was happy to finish, but wants to run the whole race next time.


Li Is “Luckiest” Person at University

Li made plans for over half a year to visit Shanghai, China with her friend. She carefully planned her itinerary and checked airline prices. Two weeks ago, she felt really lucky because she found a very cheap ticket. However, recently China has had an epidemic of the corona virus. Because the virus is contagious, she wanted to cancel her trip. Unfortunately, her cheap ticket is non-refundable, so she is not lucky at all. Li will now wait until next year to visit China, and she plans to buy a refundable ticket next time.