Online Resource: Breaking News

Breaking News English has more than 700 lesson plans based on current events and news stories, from “Denmark recalls diplomats over cartoons,” to “Harry Potter star in new naked role”. There are also suggested warmers, pre-reading and discussion questions, vocabulary exercises, and an MP3 listening you can download. Some of the True/False questions are quite funny (In the story: [Britney Spears] said the celebrity-obsessed photographers hound her to the extent that she feels she is constantly escaping their attentions. In the T/F section: Ms. Spears said she was afraid of a hound owned by a photographer.), but they pick up on real mistakes a reader might make with vocabulary.

These lesson plans are useful not only because they are nearly ready to go, but also because they are current and provide a good context in which to discuss or debate ideas. It’s often more effective to discuss a specific case (the controversial Danish cartoon) than a general concept (freedom of the press). Each lesson includes both a “harder” and “easier” summary of the story.

The “easier” versions still provide a decent amount of challenge, and could be used for a starter jigsaw activity where half the class reads one article, the other half reads another, and then students from each half pair up and explain what they read. In my experience short, interesting stories for this type of activity are hard to find, so I am bookmarking this site. Breaking News English is a keeper