- Keywords: Local news, fake news, authentic learning
- Learner English level: Intermediate and above
- Learner maturity: University
- Preparation time: About 20 minutes
- Activity time: 1 class period
- Materials: Students’ homework
A quick survey with a show of hands to ascertain if students read the news in English regularly may result in blank looks and negative responses. One way to get students interested in reading the news is to have them share local news stories (either from their hometown or current residential area), which they can more easily relate to as it pertains to the community they are acquainted with and connected to. Through this activity, students not only practice summarizing, paraphrasing and describing news verbally and in writing, but they also gain an appreciation of how news changes in the retelling.
Step 1: In a prior class, present an interesting news story from the teacher’s hometown to provide a scaffolding example for the students. In addition, discuss differences between local, domestic, and international news. Also, ask the students how their local news is relayed and why that news is important to their community. Another focus of discussion can be on how accurate/true the stories are with so much fake news around.
Step 2: For homework, have students summarize a local news story. Stress the need to include a description of the locality related to the story so listeners can be better informed about that area and appreciate it from a more local perspective. They should also add their own opinions and ideas about the story and any connection or involvement with the story that they might have.
Step 3: Tell the students to practice talking about the story so they can speak about it during the next class without looking at what they had written.
Step 1: Begin the class by giving the students about five minutes to refer to the local news stories they had written for homework. This will refresh their memories of the content.
Step 2: Seat the students in pairs and then ask them to tell their story in turn without referring to what they had written (except for quick peeks). Encourage the listeners to ask follow-up questions and repeat back what they heard for clarification. For confidence building in telling their stories, repeat this step several times with different partners before moving on to the next step.
Step 3: Now, ask students to tell the story they heard from their last partner to their next partner, instead of telling their own story. Repeat this step 3 to 4 times.
Step 4: Have the students sit in a circle and then choose a student to stand and tell the class the last story they heard before asking for the original version to be told by the student who first told the story. Ask the class about differences in the two versions. Repeat this step for as long as time permits. Students will surely realize the importance of accuracy in relaying stories and how fake news may originate.
Step 5: Display the students’ local news stories that they had written for homework along with images so that all the students in the class may read and enjoy one another’s stories.
This authentic learning activity activates real-world, news-related language. Whilst practicing summarizing, paraphrasing, checking and correcting for accuracy, students gain greater confidence in sharing local news as it relates to something of interest, concern, and relevancy to their own lives. This activity is easy to recreate for the teacher and students enjoy it.