Each issue of our handwritten magazine, for more than 10 years now, offers new treasures for my students : stories, poems, book reviews, and artwork in a variety of styles and genres…….A great motivator for reading and writing…
It’s is actually a motivator, for all language skills!
In many ways a student magazine is the ideal project for language learning. There is a clearly-defined end product while there is also plenty of room for choice regarding content. The students can focus on individual interests such as sport, computers, the Environment, music, etc. – with obvious motivational benefits – while at the same time working within a clear structure to a common aim. The ‘four skills’ of reading, writing, listening and speaking are integrated naturally. For example in order to produce an article on music a student might:
a) Read articles in a music magazine to get ideas (reading)
b) Listen to songs and write down the lyrics (listening / writing)
c) Write survey questions and interview other students about their musical tastes / talents (writing / speaking / listening)
Within the overall school context a magazine is useful in providing a focus for written work: students know that a particularly ‘good’ piece of writing might go into the magazine. This potential for communication with a real audience provides motivation and encourages attention to style and accuracy. Students have a chance to practice a variety of text types – articles, reviews, letters, crosswords, cartoons, graphs and tables. Decisions about content provide a forum for discussion and negotiation. Finally, in common with all project work, learner autonomy and co-operation are fostered as students try out different roles and learn to get on with their peers. To sum up, a student magazine:
- provides integrated skills practice
- allows students to contribute each according to their ability and interests
- provides a focus for written work
- encourages attention to style and accuracy
- provides a discussion and negotiation forum
- encourages learner autonomy, co-operation and motivation
- With so many benefits it is a wonder that EFL classes do anything else! However there are disadvantages. First, the very fact that students are able to concentrate upon individual areas of interest means they might neglect other areas. For example, a student with artistic talent may spend some time illustrating the magazine, but not practicing much English. Motivated students may end up doing all the work while less motivated students do very little.
- Because of the high cost, I have many times thought about running our magazine as a mini business some day in the future, with students working out costs and selling it on the course .. the better the magazine, the more students would buy it; the fewer the pages, the higher the profit. For the time being, I have been… sponsoring our class magazine, myself using money earned from our school Bazaar! I distribute it to students -writers only, free of charge of course, to take it home…I also, keep a couple of copies in our school English bookcase and I make sure that I send a copy to our pen pals abroad, too!
- As a general comment, based on my experience so far, school magazines are useful in many ways. They have a great educative value. They encourage the students to think and write. So they develop their writing skills and talent. They also develop their power of thinking and strengthen their imagination. In this way the general knowledge of the students increases and they acquire the habit of reading and writing. School magazines also teach the students the value of co-operation and encourage healthy competition. They are a source of self-help and self-confidence for students. Students find real joy when they see their names published in the school magazines, respectively. Besides, school magazines are interesting for the ex-students of the school. They read articles and their memory of the past days becomes fresh again. These magazines are a means of bringing the ex-students and all the members of the school in touch with one another. . P.S
- Our bookcase is also, full of many english magazines which are free for students to borrow,such as the Scholastic ELT readers- http://maryglasgowplus.com/book_lists/4204. which I find fascinating!
- Having read the amazing English newspaper by Vivi Hamilou’s students, lately, at the Primary School of Pteleos , Greece ( http://blogs.sch.gr/vivihamilou/2011/04/17/english-school-newspaper-%E2%80%93-issue-3-%E2%80%93-primary-school-of-pteleos/ ) which who has been involved in an eTwinning project that includes exchanging English school newspapers with other European Primary Schools, I have been thinking about taking a similar step with our magazine in the near future, too!