Language teachers know that often the best lesson plans are those they develop themselves. Course books are fine used in moderation, and there is a wealth of ready-made lesson plans that can be found all over the Internet. But nearly everything needs at least some tweaking, if not a full scale adaptation if its going to suit the personality of the trainer and the specific needs of the learner.
But the big issue is time. With all the best of intentions its not easy to set aside time to develop new materials. This is where automated text analysis tools come in handy, and can save you time when creating reading comprehension activities. One such example is lingleonline.com. They are newly out of beta, and it looks like there are still a few wrinkles that need ironing out, but it’s well worth a try. Although it is not possible to upload your own text for analysis, there is an extensive database of recent news articles from a variety of sources, and it is fairly easy to find something topical and appropriate.
All of these tools are fairly customiseable, and if you you don’t like any of the words or expressions selected automatically for the gapfill exercises you can delete them and add your own with a little extra effort.
The goal of Lingle is to serve as a platform where you can build up your own collection of lessons, that your students can actually access and use online, so it lends itself well to creating self-access homework exercises. It is also easy to print .pdfs. But as with any automated tool, you may want to do some cutting, pasting and tweaking before you’re entirely satisfied with the result. As their user base increases the tool is only going to improve, and at 40€ for a year’s subscription it’s not bad value, and they have a free 30-day trial to take it for a spin.