News Report ESL Writing Activity

This is an effective activity for improving students’ writing skill by summarizing information from a news broadcast. The goal of the news report ESL activity is to create a brief summary of a news story that they watch in class. Students can also improve note-taking skills.

Student Level: Intermediate, Advanced

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Age Group: Adults

News Report ESL Activity

News Report ESL Activity Preparation:

Select a recent news report from a news website, like BBC, CNN, CBC or another reputable news television station that you prefer to use. Generally, they should be relatively short news clips anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes in length.

It’s a good idea to watch and listen to the clip first yourself. This way you can make a list of any vocabulary or expressions that you think the students are unfamiliar with.

News Report ESL Activity Guidelines:

Before playing the news clip for the class, have the students discuss something related to the news topic that you are going to play for them. Remember to pre-teach any vocabulary in the news clip that they may find difficult as well.

Remember to pre-teach any vocabulary in the news clip that they may find difficult as well.

Introduce the video briefly before showing it and explain to the class that they are supposed to take notes on the news clip. Emphasize that they should write in point form and that grammatically correct sentences aren’t mandatory when taking the notes.

Play the news clip. The students should take notes as they watch it. If they have difficulties getting the main idea or struggle with understanding some things, play the news clip again. Have them take more notes on what they missed in the first viewing.

After the video, have the class share their notes in pairs or groups. They should discuss what they heard and have a better understanding of the news clip after talking with each other. Lead feedback and offer any additional information that they may have missed.

Lead feedback and offer any additional information that they may have missed.

Next, have the class write a short summary of the news clip using the notes and information that they gathered during their discussions. Students will likely want more direct feedback from the teacher, so they can hand in their summary before the class finishes or complete it for homework.

In addition, they could also do peer-feedback and offer each other ideas for correcting their writing. This will help them focus on accuracy and grammatical structure or any other writing skill you would like them to focus on.

Optionally, you may want to give them a sample summary of another news story so that they can use it as a reference for what to do when writing their own summaries. This is something you would have to prepare before the lesson, so keep that in mind if you think it’s appropriate for your class.

Follow-Up ESL Activities:

To conclude the news report writing activity, you could discuss other recent news topics related to what everyone did in class in groups. Alternatively, you could show the class news articles and try the Jigsaw Reading Activity to improve their reading skills.

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Related ESL Resources Online:

World News for ESL Students on

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