Students choosing material

Students choosing the material… a Do or a Don’t?

I asked my C1 level students the other day to choose some articles they would like to read and use in class and then it hit me… is this a good idea or a bad idea? Well, in this case (the first stage of this choose your own material part of my C1 sessions) it was a great idea cause my learners sent me some really interesting articles : ), on issues I did not think they were interested in! I am providing the links: 

Why get your students to choose articles they want to read and talk about?

1. They are online 24/7 anyway (well, mine are!) so getting them to do one more thing online is not really asking for too much on their part.
2. They will have to read a few things before they actually send you the article (or atleast I hope they will…) and truth be told the more they read, the better! The more exposure they have to reading texts, articles in this case the better. Even just reading a headline can be helpful!
3. They choose articles they find appealing. This means that they will be more motivated to:
  • find unknown words.
  • present a short summary of what they read/ talk and elaborate about something THEY are interested in.
  • use their article as part of another task like a project.
4.  Authentic material like newpaper articles, give them exposure to real language. It may be dense in language they are unfamiliar with, full of colloqualisms, idiomatic expressions etc but it is a great opportunity for them to learn new words if they come accross something they are interested in. On the plus side, they will feel great content when they manage to understand a real web article.

Things to be careful of:

1. Give your learners some sort of word limit. You don’t want some of your learners bringing in a mega giga article and the rest itsy bitsy ones!
2. Ask them to send you the link to the article before they bring it into class so you can check it for any inappopritae material. You may also want to make some further reading tasks, vocabulary tasks and so on. Having the articles beforehand is useful for you as a teacher.
3. Choosing articles may be better for students who have a good control of language. Students who are not above intermediate level will probably struggle when given authentic articles. Instead of being motivated they may end up being discouraged.
4. Give your students clear instructions as to what you want them to do with the article. In my case i told my students to read the article and prepare a short oral summary of what the article says. I also told them to make word cards with their unknown words on one side and the explanation on the other. As homework, and after we have read the articles in class, I am also going to ask them to write their own reading comprehension questions based on the text and we will revisit these articles+ their reading comprehension questions in the next lesson.
Screenshot of newmap. Link to this website: http://newsmap.jp/
I am really looking forward to this session. I will back with a new post about how it went.
Till next time…..
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