Saturday, February 18, 2017

NEWS made Comprehensible

Weekly news publication by Martina Bex
Do you have routines in your language class? I have a several that I follow (almost) without exception. Some of those are Monday's "weekend talk" to start the week, Tuesday and Friday's "El Encierro" game with my Spanish 4 classes, and starting in January of this year, all Wednesday classes begin with noticias (news) with Martina Bex's publication, "El Mundo en tus Manos - Noticias del Mundo Hispanohablante". (Note for French Teachers: A similar publication is available in French by Cecile Laine. Search for her sources on TeachersPayTeachers.) 

Noticias del Mundo Hispanohablante is a weekly publication that Martina Bex creates and makes available each Monday morning. There are five articles in each edition on current events in the Spanish speaking world such as sports, health/nutrition, politics, celebrities, science, and other subjects. 

How do I use this valuable resource? 
First, I chose Wednesdays to be the day to start classes with the news because I already had routines in place for others days that I didn't want to change. Sometime between Monday morning and Wednesday morning, I download the weekly edition and make 31 copies to use with my students. (I used to print out the basic version and the slightly expanded version for my upper level students, but now I print out the basic version for all classes to cut down on copying.)

from weekly publication by M. Bex
I greet the students at the door, every day, and if I have a paper that I need to distribute at some point in the class, I hand it to the students to save that time later in the class period. On Wednesdays, the paper I hand to them is the publication, Noticias del Mundo Hispanohablante. This semester I have Spanish 2, Spanish 4 and Spanish 4+ classes, but this Noticias del Mundo Hispanohablante can be used with all levels.  

Students have 8-10 minutes to read the articles and to prepare to share the information with the class. The first two times I used this resource, I asked the students to be prepared to talk about the article.  Some students need the full 8 minutes to read one article, but most students read at least two articles, and I've watched some of my higher level students reach their fifth article in that time frame.

Summarize in English
Then I ask for volunteers to tell me about an article they read in English. Yes, in English. They read the news in the target language and when they share the information with the class in English, I am able to tell how much they understood. 

The first two times I used this resource, I asked the students to be prepared to name two facts from the article, but the students didn't stop at two facts and it eventually morphed into a summary of the article. (Don't you just love it when students go beyond your expectations!) The majority of the time I expect my students to communicate in the target language, so when they have an opportunity to talk in English, there is little hesitation - in other words, I don't have to wait long for students to share what they have read. 

Extended Discussion in Spanish
If students know something that the first student didn't mention, they can add to the summary. Then the students and I discuss the article and related topics in Spanish, at the appropriate level for the students, for as long as there is interest from students, even if that means I never get to the rest of the day's lesson plan! Then we move onto the next article.   

The following day I save some of the printed copies and place them in a binder for students to use during SSR. 

Why I like this resource
Wednesdays' news article reading and discussions has quickly become one of my favorite resources and class activities because:
- the articles are interesting and educational
- Martina writes the articles with the goal to keep it comprehensible for second language learners
- unfamiliar words are glossed
- the length is perfect: long enough to inform the reader, but short enough to keep the reader's attention
- there is a photo for each article! (with only 1 exception thus far)
- teachers can contact Martina with suggestions for the publication. If your students are interested in a national/international news story, suggest it to Martina and there's a possibility she will include it in the following week's edition, which will provide more input on the subject matter for your students.
- there are articles that correlate with novels that my students are reading. For example, my Spanish 2 students are currently reading Mira Canion's "El Escape Cubano" and the January 15 edition has the article (shown on the right) about Cubans fleeing to America and the change in the US "wet feet, dry feet" policy.

But, wait, ... doesn't it cost money?
Yes, it does. Obviously, you can find free news resources in Spanish on the internet, but you will have to search long and hard to find something that you can copy or project onto your board, exactly as it is written, and use with all the levels you teach, without modifying it. It's ready to go! Martina does the work for you (and sometimes on Sunday nights I actually think about Martina and wonder if she is at her computer writing and adding recent news stories that happened over the weekend).

When I purchased the Spring 2017 edition of Noticias del Mundo Hispanohablante, I justified the cost because I knew it would serve as a weekly resource that I could use with my students. There are 21 issues and with 5 articles per issue, that's over 100 comprehensible Spanish news articles. The extra benefit, is that I'm being informed about news events, many which I would not have read about in other sources and I'm learning new vocabulary in context. As a native English speaker, I recognize that I will forever be a Spanish language learner.  :-)   


1. I bought this resource with my personal money to use in my classroom. I am not receiving any reimbursement from the writer of the publication in exchange for writing about it on my blog. I wrote this blog post because I view Noticias del Mundo Hispanohablante as a valuable resource and I want to alert other Spanish (and French) teachers about it

2. I included screenshots from the publication with the written consent of Martina Bex. As a reminder, if you purchase this resource from Martina on TeachersPayTeachers, and for other materials that you buy, you need to honor the copyright laws regarding what you may and may not do with the purchased materials. 


  1. I´d like to hear more about your ¨weekend talk¨ routine. Have you written a post about how you carry it out? Would you be willing to share?

    1. I have not written a post about this. It takes many forms depending on the level and at what point in the semester we are, or even on the energy (or lack of energy) in the class. At my school, we teach stories with the past tense in level 2. (some day we'll use both present and past in Sp1, but that day is not here yet). Therefore, my Sp2 students are not able to say what they DID over the weekend, so sometimes I put three options on the board (i.e. fui-I went; hablé con =I talked with; vi=I saw and I ask students questions that will use those words in the past. Sometimes I have the students sketch what they did and I use the doc camera to talk about what they did and ask them questions. Other times I project sketches on the board of several activities and students have to sign their name on one, or more, of the activities in the sketches they did over the weekend. Or, sometimes I just talk to them about my weekend and then ask them if they also went to a movie, or a restaurant, or were sick, or whatever I mentioned.

      With the Sp4 and Sp5, many times we sit in a semicircle and tell the class what we did. Sometimes I have them talk in groups of 3 and then they take turns telling the class about one of their classmate's weekend, or after talking they write about it, or they have to find someone that did 3 activities that they did (but not counting I ate, I slept, etc). With Sp4 & 5 I have told them to write 2 things they actually did and 1 thing they didn't and the class has to guess which one is incorrect (no creo que tu´hayas _____). Or, I have them write what they did and then I read a paper and the students have to guess which classmate did those things. If I know we are going to read a chapter with a new vocabulary word, I will try to weave that into the conversation so their first encounter with the word is before they see it in the novel.

      Like I said, there are a lot of different ways we do our "weekend talk" routine. After typing this response, I'm thinking it probably would be a good idea to write a blog post about it. :)
      Have a great day!!!