Leigh Davidson Leigh Davidson

Two-Headed Baby, Read All About It!: What Should Be Considered News?
Intermediate to Upper-Intermediate, Prep Speaking level


In this lesson, Ss will discuss the popular and current phenomenon of dramatizing and tabloidizing stories in the news. Multiple stories will be explored and discussed to flesh out this phenomenon, with the goal of determining what stories the Ss consider 'newsworthy.' Censorship, and its role in manipulating how news stories are presented, will also be a conversation topic. The final productive activity will focus the groups on creating a 'line-up' for a nightly news broadcast, at 6pm.


Abc Is This News?
Abc Sensational Headlines, Sensational Stories, and Sensational Stories: GW Activity

Main Aims

  • To provide Ss with the opportunity for freer-speaking practice on the subject of news and what type of story should be considered 'newsworthy'

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide Ss reading comprehension practice with little to no prompting from associated comprehension check questions


Warmer/Lead-in (12-15 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Write on the WB WHAT IS NEWS? Elicit from the WC how they would define 'news.' Write some of the Ss' answers on the WB. [T Answer: current events, concerns, or ideas shared by the wider public]. Elicit from the WC any 'news' that they recently read about. Write on the WB NEWS SOURCE, and underneath the header, write the following sources: TELEVISION, INTERNET, NEWSPAPERS, and RADIO. Elicit from the WC which medium they regularly use to get their 'news.' Elicit the rationale for their choice. Why do they prefer that source over others? What specifically do they like better? Divide the WC into pairs and instruct the groups to think about the 4 media sources for news [on the WB], and discuss some advantages and disadvantages when getting your news from each source. "What is the best way to find out what's happening in the world? Discuss with your partner the advantages and disadvantages of these 4 media sources. What are the strengths, and weaknesses, for each media source when reporting news events and stories?" Distribute the HO on 'Advantages-Disadvantages: News Source.' Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB.

Useful Language (8-10 minutes) • To highlight and clarify useful language for coming productive tasks

Write on the WB SENSATIONAL STORIES and underneath the header, some 'sensational' topics: WAR, CORRUPTION, POLITICAL SCANDAL, CELEBRITY DEATHS, SOCIAL INJUSTICE, and NATURAL DISASTERS (e.g. hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, etc.). Based on the examples provided on the WB, elicit from the WC how they would define a 'sensational story.' Elicit from the WC their thoughts and opinions on 'sensational stories.' Do they think that sensational stories are NEWSWORTHY [write on the WB] or not? Why (not)? Do they think these stories should even be reported? Why (not)?

Productive Task: Sensational Stories (35-40 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive

In the same groups have the Ss complete the 'Sensational Headlines' HO. Inform the groups that they are going to read 5 real news headlines. "Each headline, for the 5 news stories, is incomplete. There is a piece missing from each headline. With your partner, discuss what you think happened in the story, based on the headline description, and try to complete the missing part of the headline." Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. Write some of the Ss' headline guesses on the WB. Discuss with the WC what the Ss think actually happened in each reported story. Combine the paired groups into groups of 4 and instruct each Ss, from each group, to read 1 of the 5 stories (located somewhere in the classroom) and report back to the group on what they learned. The group should take notes while the Ss is describing their story. Distribute the HO on 'Sensational Stories: Groupwork Activity.' Provide plenty of time for this portion of the activity. Once the groups have completed their HO, bring the WC together for FB and to check comprehension. Finally, instruct the groups to discuss the questions in the second half of the 'Sensational Stories: Groupwork Activity' HO.

Productive Task: Is This News? (15-17 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Write on the WB CENSORSHIP. Mention to the WC that this is a very common activity in all countries and for all news reports/stories. Write underneath the header CHILDREN. "Censorship can occur for many different reasons, but a main argument for censorship is to protect, or try not to negatively influence, children." Refer Ss to the previously discussed sensational topics (war, corruption political scandal, celebrity deaths, social injustice, and natural disasters). Elicit from the WC whether they think any of these topics are inappropriate for children to hear (or see). Reorganize the WC into different groups and have the Ss discuss 12 news stories--and whether they would censor those stories or not. "You and your partner are news editors at a national television station. There are 12 news stories that you are considering broadcasting. However, you know that the broadcast will happen during PRIME TIME [write on the WB], when children will be watching. Decide with your partner which story, and the associated images, you would censor and how you would censor them." Distribute the HO on 'Is This News?' Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB.

Productive Task: Broadcasting Order (12-15 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Combine the paired groups into groups of 4 and instruct the WC, for the final activity, that they are going to create a broadcast for national nightly TV news at 6pm. "Your group has a list of 12 possible stories that you can report tonight. However, there isn't enough time for all 12 stories; you will only be able to broadcast 6 of the stories. Decide in your group which 6 stories you think would be the most interesting for nightly news." Distribute the HO on 'Broadcasting Order.' Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. Have some of the groups present their proposed nightly broadcast.

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