Newspapers Remain a Top Teaching Tool in ESL Education

Three-quarters of ESL (English as a second language) educators are still using newspapers to teach English in the digital age, according to a new study.

Research by Kaplan International Colleges, a leading provider of English courses, revealed that 75% of ESL teachers have used newspapers in class to help their students improve their knowledge and understanding of the English language.

It may come as a surprise to some that physical newspapers are still relevant in an era when classrooms are expected to be equipped with interactive whiteboards, laptops and iPads— but newspapers remain a valuable, cost-effective and portable ESL teaching tool because they can be used to prompt a number of language learning exercises across a wide variety of topics such as current affairs, sports and the weather.

Kaplan surveyed teachers from 40 countries to discover what tools they use to enhance their lessons and found that the most popular publication among those who used newspapers in class was The New York Times (17%), which has a record 108 Pulitzer Prizes and a variable reading level.

The New York Times was the only American newspaper in the top five most popular publications and was closely followed by the British daily newspapers The Times (16%), The Guardian (12%), The Metro (11%) and The Daily Mail (6%).

“The New York Times has a long-standing commitment to education, dating back to the 1930’s when Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger responded to teachers’ requests to receive newspapers for classroom use,” said Yasmin Namini, senior vice president, marketing and circulation, The New York Times.

“Since the launch of our Newspaper in Education program in the succeeding years, iterations of that effort continue today and educators all over the world—including those in ESL classrooms—integrate The Times into their lesson plans to help sharpen their students’ reading and writing skills, spark discussion and foster critical thinking.”

The results of Kaplan’s “How to Teach English” survey have been published as an infographic.The infographic page has quotes covering all aspects of the research.

Other survey results include:

  • 86% of ESL teachers surveyed have used music in class: The Beatles being the most popular band (used by 40% of those surveyed).
  • 81% have used English-speaking celebrities to engage students: Barack Obama being the most popular.
  • 76% have used Movies in class: The Harry Potter series being the most popular.
  • 60% have used TV shows in class: Mr Bean being the most popular.
  • 34% have used the Radio in class: The BBC World Service being the most popular.
  • 33% have used Comics in class: Spider-Man being the most popular.
  • 24% have used Computer Games in class: The Sims being the most popular.

Kaplan surveyed 503 ESL teachers from: the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Russia, India, South Korea, Turkey, Georgia, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Greece, Vietnam, Spain, Cuba, France, Taiwan, Thailand, Azerbajan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Mexico, Iran, Ukraine, Jamaica, Malaysia, Romania, Poland, Argentina, Czech Republic, Latvia, Uganda, Malta, Singapore and Chile.

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