#116 News Headlines Activity

Published on February 21, 2007

Contents
=> What is Presidents’ Day? - an explanation
=> News Headlines With Double Meanings - a language analysis activity
=> What’s New at ETsEverywhere.com
=> Do you have a Yandex address?
=> In the Next Issues


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Presidents’ Day - an explanation
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February 19th, 2007, was Presidents’ Day in the US. The plural “Presidents” doesn’t refer to all US presidents–just two of them.

George Washington’s birthday is February 22nd, and the holiday was long known as Washington’s Birthday. But Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12th, and since he is as revered as George Washington, people began to celebrate both borth birthdays as Presidents’ Day on the third Monday of February.

Aspects of the holiday differ from state to state. Some still call Washington’s Birthday, while in Connecticut Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12th is a holiday as well.

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News Headlines With Double Meanings - a language analysis activity
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Here’s a super easily rendered activity for the class (although the level will of students will need to be fairly high. The condensed language of news headlines is hard to read.)

In these examples from the book Anguished English by Richard Lederer, the headlines have unintended–and comical–double meanings.

Ask students in pairs or groups to decipher both meanings: the one the writer intended, and the one he or she did not intend.

Example: NEW AUTOS TO HIT 5 MILLION
Intended: Production of automobiles will increase to 5 million.
Unintended: Cars will hit, or run over, five million people/pedestrians.

Usually one word in the headline has a double meaning. In this example–FARMER BILL DIES IN HOUSE–there are TWO nouns that have double meanings. Hints: The unintended meaning has Farmer Bill has a person, and house as the place he lives, but that’s not the intended meaning. What else can bill mean? And in this case house is a very special house in Washington D.C.

Allow students dictionaries. See how many of the following headlines they can decipher in 15 minutes.

1. AMERICAN SHIPS HEAD TO LIBYA
2. SQUAD HELPS DOG BITE VICTIM
3. TRAFFIC DEAD RISE SLOWLY
4. SAFETY EXPERTS SAY SCHOOL BUS PASSENGERS SHOULD BE BELTED
5. DRUNK GETS NINE MONTHS IN VIOLIN CASE
6. GENETIC ENGINEERING SPLITS SCIENTISTS
7. HERSHEY BARS PROTEST
8. FARMER BILL DIES IN HOUSE
9. COUNTY OFFICIALS TO TALK RUBBISH
10. TUNA BITING OFF WASHINGTON COAST
11. CHINESE APEMAN DATED
12. DOCTOR TESTIFIES IN HORSE SUIT
13. STOLEN PAINTING FOUND BY TREE
14. KILLER SENTENCED TO DIE FOR SECOND TIME IN 10 YEARS.
15. MINERS REFUSE TO WORK AFTER DEATH

Feel free to write me if you have trouble figuring out any of these.

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What’s New at English Teachers Everywhere (www.etseverywhere.com)
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1. Modals! Several new audios to help students (even advanced students) discover the nuances of using could, would, may, might, should, and supposed to.

2. Personality Adjective List song. Listen to the short song one time. Which team of students can write down all 16 adjectives listed. (The list repeats four times).

3. On the way soon, some Recycle Song Classics that can be used for any level of learner.

To check out what’s new go to http://www.etseverywhere.com/?cat=20

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Do You Have a yandex.ru address?
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If you have a yandex.ru address and are receiving ETs in Russia, I would be grateful if yo could just reply to this message and say, “Yes, I’m getting it.”

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In the next issue
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Funky English: Chinglish, Japlish and more…


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