Many Magazines, Many Benefits

I’ve noted before that magazines are great items to keep on hand. They can be used for a variety of communicative activities. Here’s one more to try out in your own classroom:

Activity: Magazine Reviews

Level: Intermediate to advanced

Skills Targeted: reading (scanning, skimming); academic skills/ critical-thinking skills (making predictions, making inferences)

STEP 1 – Collect a dozen or so magazines of various types, from GQ to National Geographic. Don’t subscribe to any? Ask your friends, neighbors, and even the receptionist at your doctor’s office for magazines that are no more than a few months old. Try to avoid copies of the same magazine (even if they are different issues).

STEP 2 – Bring your collection to class and initiate a short discussion about magazines to find out which ones the students read (if any). Hand out one magazine to each student (it should be done randomly unless a student regularly reads a certain magazine, in which case you can hand him/her something new). Ask the students to look at the cover, skim the index/ table of contents, and scan the whole magazine for article titles and advertisements. Prepare a sheet of questions to guide this process. Model:

  • What’s the title of your magazine?
  • How often is this magazine published?
  • What kind of articles are there?
  • What kind products are advertised?
  • Who do you think reads this magazine?
  • Would you read this magazine?
  • How much does this magazine cost?

STEP 3 – As a class review any necessary vocabulary. Suggestions: publish, issue, advertise(ment), cost, newsstand price, appeal to, topic, article, title/ be titled.

STEP 4 – Have students work in small groups of 3 or 4. Each student should present his/her findings to the group. (Students should not work with others who looked at the same magazine.) Prepare a sheet of phrases to guide this process. Model:

  • I looked at _______________________.
  • This is a magazine for _______________________ (whom). / I think this magazine mostly appeals to _______________________ (whom).
  • They write about topics such as _______________________. For example, I saw one article titled _______________________.
  • The advertisements are for _______________________ (name the kinds of products).
  • The newsstand price is _______________________, and I think that’s _______________________.
  • Personally, I would/ wouldn’t read this magazine because _______________________.

STEP 5 – Have students change groups so that they can work with other students. (Again, try not to place together those students who looked at the same magazine.) Repeat the process of sharing findings.

STEP 6 – Encourage students to read magazines on their own. Remind them that libraries have free copies for on-site reading. If you are not going to repeat this activity with another group, allow students to take copies home to read on their own.

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