An attractive layout tool for you and your learners to make a free, professional-looking newspaper. Learners can practise writing and digital skills in a creative way and teachers can print or publish their work and put it on display.
The Newspaper Club website is user-friendly and has an attractive interface to engage learners – it’s immediately clear that they can achieve a professional result, even with limited digital skills. Creating an account is simple; all you need is an email address.
Its in-built design software (ARTHR) lets you upload text and images into a newspaper design, and each page is downloadable as a pdf. You can print off these pages yourself for individual articles (for free) or order copies of tabloid-sized newspapers (for a fee) from the website. More adventurous learners can have greater creative freedom by choosing the blank design over the demo option.
Language level and skills.
Newspaper Club can be used with classes of all levels, so the best person to decide on the suitability of this tool for your learners is you, their teacher!
Even learners with very basic writing skills are able to showcase what they can do, and the professional-looking newspaper they produce is likely to inspire them to write more! To challenge more advanced learners, you could encourage them to think about layout features, along with the purpose and audience of their text.
Whatever their level, learners will be practising their English in an authentic way, while also practising and developing their digital skills.
Language learning content.
As a digital tool, Newspaper Club was not designed with the language learner in mind. However, it still has huge potential when it comes to practical application in (or out of!) the language classroom.
Possibilities for projects are wide-ranging and provide opportunities for classroom work and homework tasks to consolidate learning. Learners can select and add images, which add interest to their work and provide a visual prompt for their writing.
The pages are editable so can be redrafted online, but manipulating text within ARTHR is not particularly easy. Furthermore, once text within the website has been edited, evidence of progress disappears as the changes are not tracked. Considering it is primarily a display tool, it is really only suitable for the publishing stage of the writing process.
It would be possible to create a single class account to allow for progress monitoring, yet this could cause problems, especially with larger classes. For instance, learners might accidentally alter or delete someone else’s work.
Creating a newspaper is the perfect way to integrate skills in a collaborative way. Learners can work together in pairs or small groups to prepare the content. This means they’ll need to decide what to write, so they’ll speak and listen for a real communicative purpose.
They’ll also need to read what they’ve written to decide what to write next. This combines all four skills in a natural, enjoyable context.
Learning through language.
Creating an attractive final product will encourage even the least willing writers. The teacher can put the finished newspapers on display for other learners to read, so there is an audience for their work. There could be a competition with the best work staying on display in the classroom or on the school’s website.
Learners can practise their creative skills through presentation and language choices they make, and younger learners in particular will enjoy using images, especially if they are self-generated. The site provides blog posts, user-generated newspapers and free samples (available on request) to inspire learners.
Supporting teaching and learning.
Using a newspaper format can encourage learners to write about issues which are important to them. This may be on a local level within their school/college or as a global citizen.
You could discuss a particular topic in class to prepare learners to write a report on it; you could set up a role-play activity for learners to become ‘journalists’ and interview their classmates, and then create an article; or learners could produce a termly review of what has been happening at school/college.
These are all great opportunities for learners to share their experiences and achievements, and to focus on the language they need to communicate their ideas.
Technical: user safety and data security.
It’s a good idea to check your school’s internet policy, not only because of existing user-generated content on the site itself, but because learners may browse the internet for images and information for their articles.
Newspaper Club’s functionality is very clear and intuitive, but the site hosts an informative and extensive FAQ page if you run into issues. The support team is also very communicative via email – and quick to respond!