Going through “Activities for Using Magazines in the Classroom”, I found that the writer believes so much in the ability of this tool to facilitate teaching. He believes that it attracts attention, grasps the interest of the students especially if we start with ‘The Cover’. It is a wonderful stimulator that tempts students to work. Using the cover we can brainstorm for words, ideas …. so on. The headlines can also be used to guess the topic and its main points, what it speaks about. For higher levels we can bring four or so magazines and ask them to choose the best cover and state what makes a good cover. The Whole magazine can also be used. We can ask the students to skim the magazine or any other publication. State the different topics published, divide them into types. Then pick one and start discussing it in class. The students can be given questions to find answers for as a kind of help.
Another way to deal with articles is to use the headlines and pictures of the different articles to guess what the article speaks about before you delve into it.
Another idea is to use a pop quiz after reviewing the magazine to see what they have grasped so far. You may also ask them to make questions on the different topics, articles and ads in the magazine. One more interesting dimension is testing the comprehension level. The teacher can bring extracts from different topics and ask the students to match the headlines with the extracts. On the other hand, you can give them an article, ask them to think of the questions the journalist asked himself in order to gather information for his article. Then imagine you are the journalist having an interview with the guest.
Also you can ask the students to bring in their favourite magazines, review them with the class and say why they like them.
Pros and ConsThe idea of using magazines is a wonderful one for encouraging communication, yet it is suitable for higher levels especially with Adults learning ESL/EFL. On the other hand, if we have a curriculum to follow, it would be difficult to use this activity in class so often. Yet a teacher can use this task at intervals to help the students do a wall chart by the end of the year or course. This would give the students a lot of confidence and interest them more in learning the language. Not many teachers venture in using this task or activity as it needs efficiency, good class control and careful planning of the task.
Tips:I have also gone through a number of interesting sites discussing the idea of using magazines in teaching:
1. www.magazinesinthe21stcenturyclassroom/scholastic.com Here Mary Blow speaks about her experience with her classes from 6th to 8th grade: how she asks her students to subscribe in certain simple magazines to use in class daily and weekly. She analyses the systems of preparing magazines. She also mentions the use of Interactive White Board in addition to other supplemental materials.
2. www.busyteacher.com provides 10 ways to help teachers use magazines in class.
3. Another interesting one is “Humanizing Language Teaching” www.hltmag.co.uk that provides teachers with different creative ways for teaching including using magazines.
4. Two more interesting and highly beneficial sites are:
a. Teacher Trainer Journal www.tttjournal.co.uk
b. The School Magazine www.theschoolmagazine.com.au