Clare Lavery      
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Activities for using magazines in the classroom

You can bring whole magazines to class

  • to stimulate interest in British culture
  • to introduce the topic of Media and language
  • to help students get to grips with handling a whole publication in English.

Use copies of teen magazines or language magazines.

The cover:

  • Use the cover image to brainstorm words associated with the picture (and probable topics to be found in the magazine).

  • Look at the headlines on the cover to predict the main topics featured inside. Ask: Which would you read first? For higher levels: What types of words are used to make you want to read?

  • Choose the best cover from a selection of 4 magazines. Hold a class vote. Which cover do you like best? Why? For higher levels: What makes a good cover?

Using a whole magazine

Set a time limit for these tasks to encourage students to skim through the publications.

  1. Find topics and use headlines

    Ask students in pairs to skim through their magazine and list the types of topics covered. Encourage use of headlines and pictures to guess topic types. Compare their topic list with the contents page.

    A more guided approach can be used:

    1. Write the key headlines from all main feature articles on the board and dictate a list of topics or themes. Ask students to match the topics to the headlines on the board. Then check using the magazine.

    2. Provide quiz questions set to a time limit:

        Where can you read about dogs?
        Where can you find out about British schools?
        Where can you read about music?

    3. For intermediate students or above

      Make questions and then get pairs or groups to make their own questions using your examples:

        Which British pop singer is interviewed this week?
        What’s the most popular sport in schools?
        Which type of food is described in the eating section?
        Can you find a new type of clothing in the magazine?
        Can you find a flag on page 10?

  2. Choose what you like

    Ask students to skim through and quickly select the article/page which appeals to them most. They can tell their group or class why. This helps you see what types of topic they are interested in for future planning of conversation topics.

    Higher levels can choose a short feature and read in their group. Each group then makes an oral summary of the article to report back to the rest of the class.

  3. Comprehension

    The difficulty depends on the class level. Use graded language magazines to do this with lower levels and authentic magazines for intermediate level and up.

    Give them a list of headlines from the magazine and a sentence/sub headings or short text from each article. Can they match headlines to the extracts from articles? Do this in pairs.

  4. Be the journalist – using one feature article

    Select one article or give higher level students the choice. Students imagine they are the journalist who wrote the article. Pairs think of 4 or 5 main questions that the journalist asked to get his information. (works well with pop star interviews or descriptions of events or a news story of something that happened).

    Pool all the questions or put 2 pairs in a group of 4 to pool their questions. Then ask student to role play the conversation between the journalist and his interviewee, using their invented questions and what they have learned from the article. Use short articles for this activity.

  5. Magazine pictures:

    Even lower levels can do tasks describing pictures and finding pictures in a magazine even if they are not yet proficient enough to read a real English magazine.

  6. Personalisation (For higher levels)

    Students bring in a copy of their favourite magazine and describe it to the rest of the class next lesson, saying why they like it.

    Manual Links

    Describing pictures and using photos p 74-77
    Techniques for preparing reading p 50-51
    Dealing with newspapers and magazines p123-5
    Using voxpops from magazines p 105
    Using magazine pictures p128


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