More than 300 secondary school teachers attended a teachers' forum to get more ideas on using newspapers in a fun and enjoyable way in the classroom. The Forum 2000 - Use of Newspaper in Classroom Teaching was organised by the South China Morning Post and Young Post. About 330 teachers from 131 secondary schools came for an inspiring presentation by educational consultant Mandy Evans, followed by a question-and-answer session chaired by Ms Evans, Young Post editor Lau Chee Yong and STFA Lee Shau Kee College English panel chairman Ray Huang. In his welcoming speech, Post editor Robert Keatley said: 'The reasons for learning English are very practical. It is not only a useful business tool, but can also enhance the career enormously.' Ms Evans said English newspapers contained authentic text, examples of contextualised language use, variety, and most importantly, it enabled students to learn about other cultures. 'Hong Kong culture consists of a lot of entertainment and gossip. Chinese newspapers have a lot of coverage on accidents and other dramatic things, but not much about other cultures,' she said. 'Even in an international report, you only get to know about the event, not about the culture. 'But if the article is written by a person who is from another culture, it gives students a glimpse of what it might be like to live in that culture. This inter- cultural understanding is very important for Hong Kong. 'When students grow up, they'll become more tolerant and understanding. They under stand that people from other places do things differently, not wrongly.' Ms Evans also suggested teaching reading skills such as skimming - looking quickly over the whole text to find out what it is about; scanning - looking for particular pieces of information within the text without looking at the whole thing in detail; inferencing - reading for meaning between the lines; guessing unknown meanings from the context - an essential skill for students in examinations; reading for gist - getting the overall meaning for the article and finding out what is important; and reading for detail - looking at articles with interesting topics and useful vocabulary. Plans for a new column in the Young Post, 'Fun with English', were also revealed at the forum. CCC Mong Man Wai College teacher Ho Choi Ho-heung said the forum had given her new ideas in teaching. 'I used to ask students to do newspaper cuttings and read the comics,' she said. 'But Ms Evans provided me with some ideas so that I can make use of every article. 'And we can even have games and activities in class to raise students' interest in learning,' Ms Ho said. Tong Moon-hung of Lau Pak Lok Secondary School said it was an opportunity for teachers to exchange their teaching experience. 'Teachers from different bandings of schools face different problems. The opportunity allows us to exchange ideas and help each other out.' Ida Yiu Kit-chun of Pui Ying College said more such programmes should be organised.