BY AARON FOWLES
A few years ago I spent some time in Poland teaching English. While there, I created a simple website to help my students learn English. It wasn’t anything special by today’s standards, but back then it was reasonably popular. It was called Englishweb. I know, very creative.
I remember getting an e-mail from Sean Banville telling me about his brand new website, Breaking News English. This was in 2005. Since then, this website has been cranking out fully-featured lesson plans every 1-3 days (with a brief hiatus in 2006). Each plan is based on current events and includes audio support and extra activities.
Each lesson follows the same basic format. The article is two paragraphs long and is geared toward ELLs. There are warm-ups that prepare the students for the lesson and give them clues about upcoming vocabulary. The warm-ups are somewhat generic and leave wiggle room for teachers, which I hold to be a strength. The multiple choice language activity draws attention to homophones and morphology, while the extension activities are broad enough to give students room to express themselves. His newer lessons also provide internet activities to practice vocabulary and sentence construction.
Mr. Banville does a good job of choosing topics that will be of universal interest. Major sporting events usually get covered, as do holidays. All in all, this is a great solution for introducing nonfiction texts to students and to stimulate their curiosity about the world around them.