Without such an authentic purpose, students may consider an assignment as something to get finished and be done with. Another warm-up is a debate evolving from the news for students to practice with taking a position and defending it with pertinent ideas and logical reasoning. Another possibility with the same example would be instructing learners to embark on a local campaign that compels fast food restaurants in the neighborhood to reduce the health-threatening ingredients in the foods they offer to customers. Finally, strategy training is not possible with the writing exercises. Nevertheless, the nature of all the lesson plans, which is classroom teaching and learning without connecting directly with the real world, limits the volume of affective involvement and identity investment. However, Breaking News English is not much more than a resource of digitalized teaching ideas and materials that are easily accessible to whoever uses the Internet.
On the surface, the lesson plan encompasses reading, listening, writing, and speaking because learners can read texts, talk with and listen to classmates, listen to the recorded reading of news texts, and write individual ideas, magazine articles, and letters. Thus, the activities must be seen only as guides teachers can use to help students make the connection themselves instead of having the specific connections set up for them to use. For example, they do not regard learning as being linear, that is, simply between an instructor and the students. It is also possible to listen to the news text directly by clicking the listening link. To accomplish all the tasks, especially the debate, learners need to collect information, analyze and organize it, and present their ideas convincingly. Conclusion In conclusion, Breaking News English is a quality English learning Website with a number of impressive strengths but with some room for improvement.
About the Reviewer Su-Su Hung is a doctoral student in Language and Literacy Education of the Department of Teaching and Learning at Washington State University in Pullman. Few, if any, listening strategies can be fostered in this way. The first exercise has students write freely for ten minutes whatever they want to write about the given topic. For instance, every two-paragraph news text is about 250 to 300 words in length, and, consequently, does not contain the standard organization of journal writing for the learning of strategies to cope with such texts. Five assignments are provided as homework, and answer keys to all the exercises that have definite answers are attached to the end for reference.
One of the courses she had taught for nearly ten years was reading English newspaper and journal articles. After all these, one exercise instructs students to find the meanings of new vocabulary words in dictionaries, while another is a list of words for students to review how they are used in the text. Developing strategies for effective reading, writing, and learning This is probably the weakest aspect of Breaking News English. However, no instructions direct students to do the further reading and writing for a real-life purpose to, for example, convince the neighborhood to shut down all their lights for the Earth Hour on March 28 to advocate saving energy. However, no writing activity is associated with it. Nevertheless, the main result of doing all the activities and exercises is practice with the four language skills and development of English competence. They do not need to activate self-regulated collaborative inquiry, which involves discussing together as a team to decide the steps and tasks necessary for them to take cooperatively and use appropriate technology to investigate a topic.
At the end of the homepage, links are available to search for older lessons grouped by themes Figure 2. Providing cognitive challenge and opportunities for deep processing of meaning Such opportunities are almost always provided in Breaking News English by warm-up activities that instruct students to think about several issues related to the topic. Overall, the homepage design renders it user-friendly. Podcasts of the news text are also provided, and users who need the podcast software can download it Figure 3. Take, for example, the lesson titled Australians give blood for bushfire victims. . Generally speaking, Breaking News English provides lessons based on current events.
Moreover, its various vocabulary building exercises render it effective in assisting vocabulary acquisition. A similar attempt is built into homework assignments by asking students to make, for instance, a poster presenting the nutritional value of different kinds of fast food. Culture, literacy, and learning: Taking bloom in the midst of the whirlwind. Literacy, technology, and diversity: Teaching for success in changing times. This can be a useful strategy for collecting ideas for an actual piece of organized writing. Finally, though not related to Cummins et al. New literacies: Everyday practices and classroom learning, 2nd Ed.
Promoting affective involvement and identity investment Efforts to promote affective involvement and identity investment are detectable in the lesson plans. For instance, one assignment instructs students to surf the Internet for information related to the topic of the news, which promotes further reading. Vocabulary acquisition in a second language: Do learners really acquire most vocabulary by reading? © Copyright rests with authors. Overall Lesson Structure and Web Page Design Before examining Breaking News English using the standards proposed by Cummins et al. The warm-up activities for this lesson instruct students to talk about fire and discuss with classmates what they would do to survive such disasters as a bushfire, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, and volcano and rank in priority a list of items that they would save first when evacuating their burning houses. Homepage of Breaking News English top half Lessons are presented with the latest one at the very top of the page followed by recent ones, which come at the interval of one lesson every three days. The exercises encompass four language skills—reading, writing, listening, and speaking—with an emphasis on developing vocabulary.
Such density of attention to vocabulary is likely to result in acquisition. However, to finish the exercises, students simply get ideas from each other, share opinions and information, and negotiate an agreement. Figure 3: One Lesson Page of Breaking News English the beginning part Close Examination of Lesson Design Inspecting Breaking News English with the six principles proposed by Cummins et al. For example, when the news text is about the potential threat to health if one lives near fast food restaurants, the third warm-up activity provokes students to probe into other possible dangers of living close to a nuclear power station, a prison, a volcano, and a crocodile farm. The instructions that direct students to chat, discuss, or work with classmates to finish worksheets certainly involve self-regulated collaborative inquiry.