Analyzing Features of Newspaper Headlines And It’s Implications for Elt in Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


Analyzing features of newspaper headlines and finding out its implications for English Language Teaching (ELT) is part and parcel of descriptive studies done to produce course materials out of non-academic sources such as newspapers and magazines. The idea that non-academic texts should be used in the EFL classroom is so widespread that English for Academic Purpose (EAP) courses designed to prepare students for a particular discipline such as medicine or law, generally use materials relating to those disciplines. Thus, the current study has tried to show the contribution of analyzing features of newspaper headlines for producing supplementary teaching material ls to EFL students in general and to students dealing with courses in media in particular. To substantiate the objectives already set, the study reviews the available literature at three interrelated stages. The first stage presents types of media and the rationale for using them in language classrooms. The second stage discusses newspapers, which are types of non-technical media. This stage is so comprehensive that it tells us about kinds of newspaper, the rationale for using newspapers and the methodological basis of newspaper materials. The last stage, which is about newspaper headlines, attempts to highlight the language of headlines and the advantage of learning it. The data for the research in question has been newspaper headlines in The Reporter, a weekly local English newspaper. The headlines have been gathered from -fifty-four issues of The Reporter chosen as a sample. A table comprising different columns for listing down the headlines 1<1nder their respective components has been used. The headlines obtained have' been analyses at three but closely related stages. In the first place, the headlines· have been analyzed in terms of components they are taken from. Some components occur more frequently than others, and the nature of topics treated in each of the components varies. Some components consist of headlines accompanied by pictures while others are components that present news about the target speakers. The analysis made at the second stage identifies syntactic features that characterize the headlines. These include omission of function words, embedding of certain phrase and clause structures, over use of the present tense among headlines termed 'Type 1, omission of the verb be in headlines called 'Type 2', omission and post modifications among headlines known as 'Type 3', etc. Finally, the headlines have been also studied in terms of the non-linguistic features they exhibit. These are punctuation marks, abbreviations and capitalization.Based on the pedagogical implications drawn out a t each stage of the analyses , sample teaching materials have been designed with the Ethiopian Mass Media Training Institute students in mind. Thus , the implications of the analysis made at the first stage have been used to produce supplementary reading activities. The activities demand students to match headlines with paragraphs or components from which they are taken (Ac tivity 1 and Activity 2 respectively), match headlines with pictures a nd /or captions (Activity 3 and Activity 4), and decipher headlines without access to the accompanying articles (Activity 5). The implications at the second stage, on the other hand, have been sources of activities on grammar and oral practice. These are: labeling constituents and rearranging disorganized headlines (Activity 6), identifying direct from indirect speech (Activity 7 and Activity 8, No.2 and No.3), practicing syntax and learning abbreviations (Activity 8, No.1), interpreting verb less questions (Activity 10), identifying omissions and the use of tenses (Activity 11), and deducing major syn tactic features of headlines (Activity 12). The implications based on the analysis a t the third stage have been used for designing activities on oral practice and mechanics (Activity 13 and Activity 14), and on oral practice and capita ligation abbreviations (Activity 15 and Activity 16).



Newspaper Headlines