One way to encourage our ESL/EFL students and others to become active citizens in the world is to help them become aware of important news events. Current news can also be a source of high-interest reading, speaking, listening, and writing material, and provide opportunities to stimulate higher-order thinking.
A first step in this process is to provide them with accessible information. This list, one of the last I’ll be developing this year, offers my choices for the top ten News/Current Events Websites for English Language Learners in 2007.
As in all of my lists, many of these sites existed prior to 2007. I didn’t blog about them until this year, though, so I’m including them in this year’s list.
Number ten is the English Club. It provides a monthly text and audio summary of four news stories, including online cloze (fill-in-the-gap) exercises.
I’m ranking CNN News Videos With Closed Captioning as number nine. You’ll see a series of “snapshots” streaming across the screen. Clicking on one will lead you to its video. Unfortunately, a short advertisement precedes the actual news clip. Be sure to click on the “CC” box.(It looks like this service has gone off-line)
Number eight is Voice of America’s Special English TV. The vocabulary used is great, the speed is perfect, the information is often (though not always) interesting. But can’t they liven it up a little bit and not just have a “talking head?” How about a few pictures related to the subject?
Number seven is a new site called ESL World News. It provides excellent weekly news summaries designed to be printed-out and distributed to students, along with follow-up activities. (Note: This site doesn’t appear to be in operation any longer).
Breaking News English is number six. It’s been providing text and audio of the top news stories a few times each week for quite awhile. In addition, it has excellent lesson plans and follow-up activities that can be printed-out.
Number five is the CBBC News Around. This is sort of a version of BBC News designed for younger people. The lay-out, writing, and choice of stories is very inviting. They used to provide audio to a lot of their stories, too, but they seem to have, unfortunately, discontinued that practice.
I’ve put the Audio Slideshow Gallery at Reuters at number four. The photos are excellent, they have very short captions, and the narration, though it isn’t an exact recitation of the text, is accessible. They do an audio slideshow each week summarizing key news events.
Number three is the International Herald Tribune. You click on a story, click on “Listen To Article,” and then you hear it. It works great, and you don’t have to listen to any ads. (Unfortunately, it appears they have revamped their web site and have eliminated this feature)
Number two is the Voice of America Special English News. These short articles, with audio, are accessible, timely, and numerous.
And now, for the number one News/Current Events Website For English Language Learners, I’m picking… the BBC Learning English. It was a tough choice between this and the VOA, but the BBC won out because its design is much more attractive and has images.
A News Challenge game is also a new addition to this list. Two different short news clips (with different perspectives) about the same event are shown, and then questions are asked about them.
The newest addition to this list is the LIFE site sharing millions of photos from the LIFE Magazine archives and Getty Images.
What’s great about this new site is that, unlike Google’s previous hosting of many of the same photos (which are just listed by decades), LIFE’s site shows them in thematic slideshows with accessible captions. Plus, they include daily updates of slideshows about current events. You can also subscribe to a weekly email newsletter that gives you updates on new content.Both the historical and current slideshows are fabulous.
English Raven has jnew feature called World News For Kids. Several stories with images and accessible audio are shown each week, and students can participate in an audio forum, too. All that is free. If you are an English Raven member (and it’s one of only a very few sites on The Best Educational Web Resources Worth Paying For… list — it only costs $20 per year, but also has a ton of materials that are available without paying), additional great materials are provided.
You can also find my other lists at Websites of the Year.