Using Current Affairs to Learn English
You can’t escape the news.
Children these days have never been in a world more interconnected, with information more readily accessible. It’s both a boon and a bane: it’s getting harder to shield our little ones from the harsh realities of the world, and yet, accessibility to information has opened so many opportunities and possibilities for your child; including new avenues to learn and master English.
Get them hooked!
Admittedly, the prospect of reading or watching the news may come off as intimidating to children. Any suggestions or gentle prodding that they do so on your part will also likely be met with varying degrees of vehement protest. The challenge, therefore, lies in getting them to simply start.
One way to get them to do so is to subscribe your child to reliable news sites and sources. Children love to ‘adult’, so leverage on this, and make them feel important and excited about receiving the latest news by installing news apps like The Straits Times, CNA, or even the BBC – for a more international flavour.
These apps will generally encourage signing up for notifications on breaking news and such, complete with a fancy notification tone that’s guaranteed to catch your child’s attention.
The next time your child’s phone or tablet pings with a notification, take note and ask him to inform you about the latest headline. Then watch as his face lights up when you engage him in an ‘adult’ discussion about important stuff that’s happening around the world.
If you do it, your child will be more inclined to do it too. Make it a point to make sure your child sees you surfing news sites on your phone. Share articles that you think will interest him or her – do however, take note of his or her current standard of reading and try to choose articles that are not too long or difficult for him or her to follow.
Over time, gradually widen the variety and difficulty of articles you expose your child to. Doing so will ensure that he or she reaps the benefits and knowledge from a host of topics, and ensure that he or she isn’t stagnant, and will continue to improve.
Big words, new words
As well as keeping up to date with current affairs, consuming content from a range of news sources will also expand their vocabulary. Another advantage is that your child will also become more comfortable and familiar with how words are spelt and the different contexts in which they can be used.
On our part, we can reinforce this new knowledge by taking note of what new words they have learnt, and making sure to use it often, as well as make them use it often, to ensure what’s learnt isn’t forgotten.
Switch it up
Current affairs isn’t just present through one form or medium either. Think documentaries and commentaries. Television or radio channels, from local ones like CNA938 to the international CNN, also provide exposure to English as it is spoken. This helps your child develop an ear for how good spoken English should sound, and how it is used by different people around the world.
It sharpens your child’s ability to process information, and in turn, will help your child perfect how their English is spoken; particularly useful for Oral examinations. There are long term benefits to this too. Especially now, where schools and teachers are encouraging students to speak up and share their ideas.
Being familiar with current affairs also helps your child think critically and be more resilient. Perhaps at first, asking questions or thinking about why and how events around the world unfold may not be a natural direction their thoughts may take. However, as your child grows, they will gradually come to realise that what they choose to do, and what goes on in the world, will be in some way related.
Encourage them to put things into context by helping them think about why things happen, how it will impact them and their country, and also, how then they should best prepare for their future.
How we can help
We believe that such skills are important for your child. We also understand that it is important to future-proof our students, and to equip them with skills not only beneficial to their results, but also for their futures.
Cognitus Academy regularly incorporates the use of the news and current affairs in our teaching of the English Language to PSLE and N(A)/O Level students. We train our students to think about important issues through our Critical Reading and Writing framework, and to apply their skills beyond the classroom.