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Tips for Teachers

September 17, 2012
Plain English Version

Our first Tips For Teachers. Let us know how you use them, how they can be improved and any thoughts you have about ways to introduce The Times in Plain English to students.

Real life content is always useful in teaching literacy and English.

New York City Bans Sale of Large Sodas

New York City’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is often accused of running a “nanny state,” meaning he often tells people how to behave. He banned smoking in the park and the sale of large sugary drinks in ballparks and theaters. He says he does it to improve the health of residents.

Ask your students how they feel about the government telling them what they can drink. Shouldn’t parents be responsible for the food choices their kids make? Shouldn’t adults take care of themselves?

An epidemic of diabetes and obesity among young people is the reason for the ban.

What is the proper role for government when it pays to treat these conditions through Medicaid?

Would your students recommend this article to friends and relatives who are obese or diabetic?

Why Fathers are Important

Science is learning more about genetics. The mother’s eggs and the father’s sperm cells are subject to influences such as the age of the parent, the environment and their psychological health.

The field of study is called epigenetics, which is about why genes sometimes switch characteristics that can affect, say personality, on and off.

Have the students think about their parents. Can they list some of their own traits – such as shyness or a short temper or athletic skills to one parent?

In one column

  • Write down the physical traits (height, weight, strength)
  • Write down the personality traits (shy, bold, talkative)
  • Write down the educational skills (math, science, art)
  • Write down the interests (sports, singing, crosswords)

Next to each trait write down the name of the family member with traits that are similar, they can include grandparents and other relatives – but not siblings!

Do the students thinks that parents-to-be should think about some of these traits before they have children?

Deferment Program for Undocumented Young People Underway

The Deferment program gives younger undocumented people a chance to go to school or work for two years. Thousands are applying.

Are any your students applying for deferment?

If so, ask them to tell about his/her experience so far.
Or do they know anyone who is?
Do they think the eligibility rules are fair?
Do they think the application rules are fair?

Do they think the program was started now for political reasons? It seems to be helping President Obama.

New Apple iPhone Means Forced Labor in China

The worldwide demand for new Apple products means that millions must be produced right after they come on the market.

Does this justify pressing students into working at factories? The phrase “forced labor” sounds like slavery. With so many organizations watching and Apple having its reputation to consider, is it possible the story is overstating the problem?

Do any of the students work in factories? What are conditions like?

Does it seem like the story is taking sides? In what way – which sentences seem to favor one side or another?


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In Brief

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Too Many Antibiotics Can Make Children Heavier

Children who use a lot of antibiotics gain more weight than others. The weight they gain may stay with them into adulthood.

A study of...

Enemy of the Day: Sugar

The U.S. government is saying how much sugar we should consume. They suggest that only 10 percent of the average person’s calories should come...


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