Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tiny Texts, for learning English and hearing some different accents

ESL teachers who do not use published materials or course books, know how difficult is to find good listening and reading materials for their English learners.

I would like to share with you a web site (or better to say a blog!) that I am sure you will find extremely interesting for your teaching in late Primary and Secondary: Tiny Texts.


Tiny Texts, published by Annette Porter, offers free listening and reading materials based on interesting news stories that may not make the headlines.

Each entry includes a short reading with an audio file and glossary. The recordings are provided by English teachers with different English accents: Scottish, English, Australian… This makes the listening more attractive and “real” as you can “hear” English from different countries.  

The “takeaway test” is a short printable quiz with a matching exercise and gap-fill.

Some entries also include related videos or links. The audios are uploaded in Audioboo (a great site to allows users to post and share sound files and to get itunes poadcasts).



Here are Annette’s Ten Tips for Teachers for using tiny texts in and out of the classroom. 

  1. Ask your learners to read and listen to a Tiny Text each week for homework.  It will only take 2 minutes. They will then come to your lessons with something to say and with some new vocabulary up their sleeves.
  2. Do the takeaway test as a classroom activity.  Cover the key words but help them out by providing the definitions if they get stuck.
  3. Subscribe to the itunes podcast and have tiny texts delivered to your ipod/laptop.  This will allow you to use the audio as a listening activity in class.  Just click on the itunes button here: http://audioboo.fm/Tinytexts
  4. Use the takeaway test as a listening gap-fill, i.e. Students listen to the audio and fill in the gaps.
  5. Have your students prepare one or two conversation questions related to a tiny text to spark off a lively class discussion.  
  6. Email each student in your class a link to a different tiny text.  Pair them up at the beginning of the lesson and ask them to tell their partner what they understood and what vocabulary they learned.  You could even mix up the pairs and repeat.  (You’ll fill a whole lesson if you have enough students).  Correct mistakes at the end of each session and their reports should be perfect by the end.
  7. For more advanced students, get them to use the tiny text as a starting point to research the topic in more detail (there are links to related articles at the bottom of each post).
  8. Assign a tiny text for homework and start the lesson by giving one of the vocabulary items to each student who then explains the meaning of his/her word in English and the other students guess the word.
  9. Get students to practice reading a tiny text aloud.  Record them, play it back, work on intonation and pronunciation and then record again.
  10. As an end-of-lesson cooler, have a competition to see who (or which pair) can best sum up a tiny text in exactly 7, 10, 11, or even 3 words.  I don’t know if this is possible, but it could be fun to try.

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