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NPR "This I Believe": Careers - "Do What you Love"

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


Website Example:

More Ways

Computer(s), Internet access, projector, and speakers (for class presentation)

Activity Description

Use the essays from the NPR Radio program to create speaking/conversation activities, vocabulary learning exercises, listening (main ideas, cloze, details, etc.) activities, and follow up with extension activities in which students speak or write about themselves.


  1. Make sure that the site is not blocked at your school.
  2. Prepare level-appropriate materials based on a topic that is relevant and interesting to your students and that is linked to course content (topics/themes).


  1. Use the Example Document sample (PDF file above) shows, or choose a "This I Believe" essay that relates to course objectives and lesson. Create conversation/discussion questions to prepare students for listening and reading. Also, locate and teach vocabulary from the essay which students may not be familiar with.
  2. Prepare questions to guide and focus students during the reading/listening. You can have students listen only, or listen while reading the essay transcript, depending on your lesson objectives and your students' abilities.
  3. Have students complete listening activities by answering your prepared questions. You can share the link (URL) to a particular essay so that students can listen individually in a lab setting or you can use a classroom computer to project the site link. By selecting the essay title, you will see the full essay transcript . Have students check their answers in pairs or small groups, listening again to confirm their answers, as needed.
  4. Follow up with a prompt in which students are guided to write or speak about their own belief related to the essay topic by making an oral presentation or writing a paragraph.

Teacher Tips

  • Each short essay that has been broadcast on NPR has a “listen” link to hear the authors read their essays, which provides a listening component for higher-level ESL students. The audio can be the basis for exercises on note-taking, listening for main ideas, supporting details, and cloze (listening for missing words).
  • For a small donation ($15), the site provides downloadable (pdf) Educators’ Guides at for use with high school and college students, both of which are applicable to and easily modified for use with advanced ESL students. The guides’ curricula include discussion guides, pre-writing activities and prompts, and sample essays. The purpose of the guides is to assist instructors in planning lessons with the objective of students writing their own “This I Believe” essays. The curricula “help students understand the concept of belief, explore their own values, and craft them into a well-written essay.”
  • Students can submit their essays to the site for online publication.

More Ways

Take a look a OTAN's Web-based Class Activites for March 2008 for more ideas on using NPR.



  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.