Magazines are a rich source of authentic materials and can be very motivating and inspire a wide range of activities. You can bring whole magazines to class to stimulate interest in English culture, to introduce the topic of media and language or just to help students get to grips with handling a whole publication in English. If possible, it's good to use copies of teen magazines or language magazines. Her are some ideas and tips to help you get the best from them.
Use the cover image to brainstorm words associated with the picture (and probable topics to be found in the magazine).
Look at the headlines on the cover to predict the main topics featured inside. Ask: Which would you read first? For higher levels: What types of words are used to make you want to read?
Choose the best cover from a selection of 4 magazines. Hold a class vote. Which cover do you like best? Why? For higher levels: What makes a good cover?
Set a time limit for these tasks to encourage students to skim through the publications.
Ask students in pairs to skim through their magazine and list the types of topics covered. Encourage use of headlines and pictures to guess topic types. Compare their topic list with the contents page.
Write the key headlines from all main feature articles on the board and dictate a list of topics or themes. Ask students to match the topics to the headlines on the board. Then check using the magazine.
Provide quiz questions set to a time limit:
Where can you read about dogs? Where can you find out about British schools? Where can you read about music?
For intermediate students or above, make questions and then get pairs or groups to make their own questions using your examples:
Which British pop singer is interviewed this week? What’s the most popular sport in schools? Which type of food is described in the eating section? Can you find a new type of clothing in the magazine? Can you find a flag on page 10?
Ask students to skim through and quickly select the article/page which appeals to them most. They can tell their group or class why. This helps you see what types of topic they are interested in for future planning of conversation topics.
Higher levels can choose a short feature and read in their group. Each group then makes an oral summary of the article to report back to the rest of the class.
The difficulty depends on the class level. Use graded language magazines to do this with lower levels and authentic magazines for intermediate level and up.
Give them a list of headlines from the magazine and a sentence/sub headings or short text from each article. Can they match headlines to the extracts from articles? Do this in pairs.
Select one article or give higher level students the choice. Students imagine they are the journalist who wrote the article. Pairs think of 4 or 5 main questions that the journalist asked to get his information. (works well with pop star interviews or descriptions of events or a news story of something that happened).
Even lower levels can do tasks describing pictures and finding pictures in a magazine even if they are not yet proficient enough to read a real English magazine.
Students bring in a copy of their favorite magazine and describe it to the rest of the class next lesson, saying why they like it.