How to use Buzzfeed in the ESL Classroom: intermediate and upper levels

Buzzfeed is one of the biggest online news providers and can provide the content for some magnificent English classes. Here we give you the key to unlocking millions of articles for lesson plans that will make the life of any ESL teacher easier!

Most of the articles will have a topic and a numbered amount of supporting points, ‘e.g. 17 things to do in London with your gal pals’. Each of the supporting points comes with a picture and a line or two which means it is a very visual and user-friendly interface, and are therefore refreshing for English students who are used to reading long passages of text out of a textbook and can be used by the teacher for ESL Buzzfeed activities.

ESL Buzzfeed activity 1

As there are so many articles to choose from, one of the best uses of Buzzfeed is to let your students explore it for themselves, either during class if the technology is on hand, or for homework. Tell students that they will be presenting an article of their choice and that they will have to explain why they chose it. So as not to let students get lost in amongst all the articles and to prevent duplicate articles being selected, students could be assigned the sub-categories which Buzzfeed itself uses to categorise articles (see the toolbar at the top of the page – lol, win, omg, cute, fail, wtf). When presenting, they will have to add their own perspective onto each point – saying why they agree or disagree, to encourage speaking as far as possible. They should look up any unknown vocabulary to be able to explain this to the rest of the class.

ESL Buzzfeed activity 2

Another creative activity is to show students only the visuals, and not the accompanying text of a Buzzfeed article. Often a pattern will emerge from these photos (for example, lots of iconographic photos of London arise in the ’17 things to do in London’ article). The students are then tasked with firstly writing the title and then writing the text that accompanies each photo. Students can then present their version, before the teacher reveals the real version to the students, letting the students see how close they were to the original article.

ESL Buzzfeed activity 3

Once students are familiar with the format of Buzzfeed, they can write their own article from scratch. This would typically be an extended activity in pairs. Students would think of a topic with the help of the teacher – this could be something about their city or country or a common interest (i.e. effective ways to learn English). Then they would brainstorm all the effective ways they can think of, count them up, and then create the article by writing a line or two about each point and finding an accompanying picture. On the due date, the class could have a Buzzfeed Presentation Extravaganza – showing their hard work to their peers and then having a session for questions as well as peer and teacher correction.

Can you think of any other ways to use Buzzfeed in the classroom? If you’re looking for other ideas for your advanced classes, check out our other ESL activity blogs.

[contact-form-7 id="40" title="Enquire Form"]