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Lesson 12

Recognising news report language

Journalist training school background:
Journalists need to use formal and concise language to present factual information clearly to their readers

NewsWise values

This lesson focuses on all of the NewsWise values; language choices affect the way information is presented to an audience.

Learning objective

To identify and use the language of news reporting.

Learning outcomes

  • Identify and write an effective 5 W introduction.

  • Identify the language features of a news report, explaining the purpose of each.

  • Use formal and concise language to convey information.

Starter/baseline assessment

  • 5 W introductions: pupils decide which 5 W paragraph they think is the most effective. Discuss pupils’ ideas as a class, considering what the most interesting or important information is within this news story. Which paragraph starts with the most interesting or important information? Which paragraph is the least effective 5 W paragraph and why?


  • Pupils use the 5 Ws from their own news reports to write an introduction paragraph, making sure that they begin with the most interesting and important information.

Learning activity

  • Spot the news report: pupils read different accounts of the same story in order to identify which is written in the style of a news report. Which one is the news report? How do you know? How is the news report different to the others? Which words or phrases sound like news report language? Discuss as a class, using pupils’ ideas to add language features to your class’s ‘news report toolkit’. Can you identify all of the language features in the news report?

  • Challenge: What is the purpose of each language feature? How do the language features help to convey information to the reader?

  • Pupils read the Informal report which contains too much descriptive and informal language. They first identify examples of unnecessary descriptions and inappropriate language, then rewrite the statements using the formal and concise language of news reports. For support, pupils can refer to News reporting language.


  • Pupils select a key point from the middle section of their pyramid plan (completed in the previous lesson) and draft a sentence for their own news report. Pupils swap sentence(s) with a partner, reading each other’s aloud and providing feedback on whether it uses formal and concise language.

  • Challenge: pupils decide whether their chosen sentence is adding contrasting, additional or chronological information. Pupils attempt to rewrite their sentences using an appropriate sentence starter or a complex sentence, using an appropriate subordinating conjunction (for support, see News reporting language for sentence starter ideas).

Questions for assessment

  • What type of language does a news report use? Why? 

  • What is the difference between the way a news report sounds compared to a fictional story? 

  • What makes an effective 5 W paragraph? 

Core knowledge and skills

  • The language features of news reports include: 

  • Formal, concise language with short sentences, rather than descriptive narrative writing.

  • Third person and past tense, although note that the final paragraph may switch to future tense

  • Direct speech using the reporting verb, such as ‘said’, rather than ‘fiction-sounding’ verbs such as ‘whispered’, or ‘cried’

  • Reported speech to paraphrase what someone said. Gareth Southgate said that he was excited about the new England squad.

  • Relative clauses to explain who the sources are. Gareth Southgate, England manager, said: ‘I believe this is a squad that we can be excited about.’

  • You may wish to focus on a particular language feature during the main part of this lesson, based on your pupils’ prior knowledge and experience. The suggested focus is on the tone of a news report (formal, concise language), but you may choose to focus on reported or direct speech in the context of including quotes. See ‘Extension opportunities’ for further ideas.

Extension opportunities

  • Pupils practise the skill of paraphrasing by turning quotes into reported speech (see Reported speech resource).

  • Pupils use their bank of quotes from interviews to practise writing direct speech and reported speech sentences for their news reports. Ask pupils to swap their sentence(s) with a partner and read each other’s aloud before providing feedback.

  • After looking at the conventions of relative clauses as a class, pupils add relative clauses into direct and reported speech (see Relative clauses resource).


Curriculum links

Grammar, vocabulary and punctuation

  • Recognising and selecting vocabulary appropriate for formal news reporting; learning grammatical structures 

More lessons

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