Houghton Mifflin Social Studies
A More Perfect Union

What's News?

Objective: Students study the function and significance of newspapers written in languages other than English and read in this country.

What You Need:

Suggested Time:
2-3 class periods

Building Background:
Most major American newspapers reach general audiences who read English, but there are also niche papers for speakers of languages other than English. These include multi-lingual readers, students of foreign languages, and immigrants to the United States. A few of these newspapers publish daily editions, and many are published weekly or monthly. When the audience is a immigrant group, the newspapers help not only to make the recently-arrived people feel less isolated but also help them to understand and function in the society they have entered.

What To Do:

1. Ask students if they know of anyone who reads a newspaper or journal in a language other than English. Explain that many immigrant groups read newspapers in languages such as Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and the various languages of Southeast Asia. Discuss students' thoughts on why people continue to read papers written in their first languages.

2. Tell students they will need to locate someone who reads such a newspaper. If they do not know someone personally, they should ask family and other community members to suggest someone. Once they have found such a reader, they should study a copy of the paper that person reads and answer as many questions as they can on the What's News? worksheet. For some questions, they will need to interview the reader.

3. After students complete their worksheets, have them meet in small groups to discuss the following questions: What needs do foreign-language newspapers meet? Do they help to integrate immigrant communities into the mainstream or do they keep them apart? Tell students they will need to support their opinions with good arguments.

Have representatives of the discussion groups present their group's conclusions on the purpose and significance of foreign-language newspapers in the United States.


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