A Review of Famous People Lessons, a Site by Sean Banville

Several weeks ago I wrote about an amazing site called Breaking News English by Sean Banville,
which provides FREE downloadable teaching materials on current events. I said I would be writing more about his other useful sites, and after weeks of delay, that day has come.

Famous people 02

Just scroll down the list of famous people on the site until you find someone who might interest your students. The list includes such usual suspects as Hillary Clinton, Brad Bitt, and Aung San Suu Kyi, but there are also some more eclectic selections like Ratan Tata and King Mswati III.

Famous People Lessons features short articles on a variety of well known people from around the world. At present there are 164 pieces on singers, actors, models, authors, artists, politicians, corporate executives, royalty, athletes, fashion designers, union leaders, journalists, first ladies, centenarian twitter users, social commentators, civil rights leaders, dancers, educationalists, filmmakers, Nobel laureates, religious leaders, linguists, terrorists, former hostages…and the list goes on, making it a great resource to supplement your lessons.

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Click on the image to take a gander at the site’s piece about Albert Einstein.

Accompanying each article are a series of practice exercises, discussion questions, as well as space for writing about the subject of the article. You can download all of the articles in pdf or word format for easy printing and use in the classroom. There is also an audio file available for download which you can pass along to your students to listen to at home or on their mp3 players.

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This is just the first of a series of useful exercises all ready to use in the classroom.

There is an online component too; more or less one of those exercises where the teacher cuts up a text into its individual sentences and then asks the students to put them back in the right order. On the screen the student will see three sentence fragments from the text, one of which is the beginning of the first sentence. After choosing the correct answer, three new sentence fragments appear on the screen, from which students choose the next part of the sentence, continuing in this way until they have recreated the text in full. It’s not a bad activity, actually. (I may just try to figure how I might make one myself.)

Famous people 01Although the site is “just” a scaled down version of Breaking News English (with considerably fewer exercises) there is a lot of potential to expose your students to a wide variety of global personalities. Just remember to bring along some teaching aids from YouTube or Google Image Search to help your students put faces to the names you teach them.

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