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Expanding Headlines

In this idea, based on an activity from Penny Ur’s Grammar Practice Activities  (2009, p. 158-159), students practise using articles in the context of reporting the news.
expanding headlines activity for teaching articles
Headlines tend to remove articles to keep them short.


PRE: Prepare or collect a list of newspaper headlines.

1:  Write a headline on the whiteboard. Ask students to expand the headline into a full sentence.

2: Explain to students that on news reports, the headlines are often stated as short as possible at the beginning and then the anchor expands on them during the report. Tell students to imagine they are the anchor reporting the story.

3: Give students the remainder of the headlines and have them practise expanding the headlines into the first line of the news report. Encourage students to make up details if necessary.

On whiteboard: President has new idea for peace
S1: The President has announced today a new plan to bring peace to the middle East.
S2: The President of the United States is expected to give details of a new plan to secure peace.


1: If you prepare your own headlines you can influence the lexis that students are likely to use.

2: You could also use this activity to focus on relative clauses (3 people were left seriously injured when a car collided with a truck earlier today) or other determiners (many people do not eat enough fruit and vegetables).

Follow on:

More creative students may like to write one of the stories up into a full news report for either TV or a news website.

Example Headlines:

President has new idea for peace.

3 injured in car crash.

People not eating fruit and vegetables.

Problem with government website.

Man convicted of murdering twin.

Couple celebrate lottery win.

Rare spider found in city apartment.

Schools failing poorer children.

Homeless charity left homeless.

Illegal immigrants face deportation claims minister.

Late goal sees United top league.

Low budget film redefines romantic comedy genre.

Government minister forced to apologise.

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Image by Naomi Booth from Pixabay

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