We all know that getting our students to regularly read outside of class in English is really important for improving their English (for getting them to broaden their vocabulary, see grammatical structures in use etc...). And with the web, they can find millions of articles which they can read for free.
Unfortunately, it seems from my experience that only the most dedicated ones regularly do this.
Although it is easy to put the blame on our students for not doing this, it is not purely their fault. It is very difficult for them to find online articles themselves which are both appropriate for their level and interesting to read (I know from personal experience how much time it takes and how frustrating it can be to find suitable and interesting articles on the web for my own students to read).
This is the reason why I created the two lists of English articles (one for intermediate/FCE students and the other for upper-intermediate/CAE students). These lists contain articles on a variety of different topics (to broaden their vocabulary), appropriate for the level of the student and interesting to read.
All the articles which I have selected can be used for anyone with these levels from 14 years old upwards.
Below I now will explain both what these English article exercises are designed to do (it's not just reading) and my suggested method how you can use them with your students.
Learning and Remembering Important Vocabulary
Now that you know what these articles have been designed to improve, I will now explain how you can use them in your classes. Before you read this, I recommend that you quickly familiarize yourself with one of article exercises (what the different parts of it are and what it asks the student to do).
I recommend that once a week, set one of the articles on the list as homework for your students. I find it works best if you give it them to do over a weekend.
The first time that you give to them one of the article exercises to do for homework, you need to explain to them what they have to do. I find the best way to do this is to pick one of the articles and go through the process they have to follow in class (it should take you around 45 minutes to do). When doing this, this is what I recommend you do:
In my experience, it's likely that some of your students may not do this for homework. So in order to make sure that the majority do (or do so at least regularly), you need to check that they have. So at the beginning of the following class, get them to talk about what the article they read was about. Once they know that they always have to do this, you'll find that the majority of them will do it.
The best way to use when they are speaking about the article is to get them to do it in pairs. This means they will not only use some of the vocabulary they have learnt but they will speak more. When they are doing this, monitor what they are all doing. By doing this, it is easy to know if somebody hasn't read the article. If you think they haven't, make sure you ask them questions about it, this will encourage them to read the article you next set them to read.
When they are talking about the article, encourage them to use the words and phrases which they learnt in the vocabulary exercise (put the words/phrases up on the classroom white board when they are speaking).
One the main factors I use for deciding which articles to include in the lists, is will people find them interesting?
So, once they have described what the article they read was about, ask them questions (either as a group or in pairs) about what their opinion is on what they have read (e.g. 'What would you do if...?', 'Do you think it is right that...?' etc...). This not only makes the exercise interesting for them to do, but gets them to use vocabulary for agreeing and (more importantly) disagreeing.
Spend around 15 minutes doing the speaking part, but it's no problem if you spend more time (with some classes and with some articles, my students have spoken for nearly 45 minutes on the article and topic).
That's all you have to do. I have personally found the whole exercise to be very successful with my students. I have noticed that both my students' confidence improves with speaking in English and their range and use of vocabulary too.