Great websites to improve English reading comprehension

Every English student wants to improve their English reading but they simply don’t know where to look.

You scour your ESL textbooks but all you find are the usual reading exercises about A Day in the Life of a Postman, something about furniture or hobbies for the elderly. None of these reading exercises is interesting, least of all inspiring. You read the passages, do the comprehension exercises, but they do not motivate you.

What you need to do is read articles you want to read. Read passages that hold your interest. You need to be inspired and motivated with your reading practice or your brain just switches off.

That’s all great but where can you find these wildly interesting reading articles?

In the following guide, I outline all the best websites where you can read anything and everything that holds your interest.

No more boring reading sessions.

 

Why read English websites?

 

You should read English websites to improve your English. Build your vocabulary, learn great new phrases and sentence structure. Come to terms with idiomatic English and collocations.

But you should also read English websites so that you read the English language as it is read by millions of native English speakers too. Native English speakers don’t read the ESL textbook articles that English learners read in class. They read more serious material — articles that provoke thought or give them a different opinion on life.

That is what you need to read.

Enough of the babyish, puerile passages from your textbook. Time to read something more heavyweight.

 

Categories of English websites

 

There is quite literally something for everyone.

 

I want to outline a list of English websites below. This is to help you find the right reading material suitable for you.

 

News — these websites are news websites. Often they were print newspapers before the internet. If you are interested in current affairs and what is going on in the world, this category is for you.

 

Fashion — for all the fashionistas out there. This category shows all the best fashion websites. If you are a fashion or design student — or simply love fashion — you will love these websites.

 

Women’s Websites — for women. These websites cover women’s lifestyle — health, fashion, hair and cosmetics and many other things related to women’s lives.

 

Men’s Websites — for men. And these websites cover men’s lifestyle — health, styling, clothing. And everything else in between.

 

Magazine — these are online magazines. Different magazine websites cover different kinds of content but many of these are great reading practice for English students. Lots of different reading material here.

 

Celebrities — are you fascinated by the lives of the stars? This category has websites that feature news from Hollywood movie stars to singers to TV and social media.

 

Business — if you are a business student or working in business this is a good category for you. Tons of content on business, entrepreneurship, finance and start-ups.

 

Special Interest — this category has websites of specific interest. Things like hobbies and interests people have in their free time.

 

Kids — a selection of kids websites. The level is somewhat lower but also features topics that younger readers like to read.

 

Ready? Let’s dive in.

 

News

 

There is a news website for practically every town, every city, on the planet.

Britain has a huge number of news websites — both national and local. Since the internet, every newspaper in the world has had to design their own online presence accordingly.

If you have an interest in reading about what is going on in the world in English there is no shortage of choices available to you.

 

The BBC

 

The BBC is probably a good place to start. It has a long history of being a broadcaster of the news both in radio form and television. Then it has its own website which features many news sections.

The BBC also has a long history of helping English learners.

Try this site first for clear, easy-to-understand terms in modern, contemporary English.

 

The Guardian

 

Long-established news website from the British newspaper The Guardian. Started in Manchester originally it is now a global news source with a huge choice of sections.

The site veers towards the left politically but maintains a high reporting standard.

The Comment is Free section features opinions from leading journalists along with other members of the public. Most of these articles have a comment section where people can discuss the various lines of the argument put forward.

The level of English is going towards upper-intermediate.

 

The Daily Mail

 

Pre-Internet this was a more middle-class newspaper, originally catering for women. Now it has become more tabloid in nature, with features on celebrities and the British royal family.

The news articles are often filled with outrage as the average reader is a Middle Englander looking for a reason to be angry at the world.

English level is intermediate with lots of modern colloquial English in the articles.

 

Time

 

Another news source of a long history, this time from America.

Look to this for in-depth articles on American news, politics and the economy. Some articles are very long but in general a good read.

English level is intermediate to upper-intermediate.

 

NPR

 

National Public Radio started as a radio station with features on news of the day. Now it has evolved into a podcast and news website.

This is for serious news fans — people who want to read a detailed analysis of political or economic world affairs.

The English level on this site is going towards upper-intermediate.

 

Vice

 

A news website of the internet age, this site has many feature-length articles on a wide variety of subjects. The layout has a more contemporary layout. It has a magazine-style about it. The level here is intermediate to upper-intermediate.

 

Fashion

 

Fashion has been a huge market for news and media sources for many years. Before the internet it was very easy to find dozens of fashion magazines at the newsstand — now they all have websites available.

If you are a fan of fashion or a student studying fashion, then this is the right place for you.

 

Vogue

 

Vogue has been around for many years. It is widely considered the fashion bible of the industry and leads where others follow.

Features on every fashion show in the world along with interviews with designers, models, commentators and everyone else involved in the world of fashion.

English level is intermediate to upper-intermediate with an emphasis on fashion and style vocabulary.

 

There are also the following fashion magazines for English students:

 

Harper’s Bazaar

 

Marie Claire

 

Women’s Websites

 

Women have been a huge market for news and the media for many years and as such there are many choices of websites that cater to women and women’s lifestyles.

Many of these websites originally began life as a magazine and have gone through stages of praise and criticism as the political climate changes and adapts.

 

Cosmopolitan

 

This is one of the longest-running women’s interest magazines in the world. It features articles on women’s health, style, fashion and food.

The general style of the site is lightweight and easy-going, even if the writer is dealing with a serious subject.

But if you are a woman or even a teenage girl, many of the articles could hold interest for you.

The level is about intermediate.

 

Elle

 

Another well-established magazine for women. This is very similar in style to Cosmopolitan.

English level — intermediate.

 

Also, try the following for English reading:

 

Allure

 

Woman Magazine

 

Men’s Websites

 

Years ago men’s magazines were an odd collection of sport, cars and naked girls.

Since the nineties, they have exploded into a much bigger source that deals with men’s health, styling and interests. Many men’s magazines deal with issues that men may understand.

As a result, there is a massive selection of men’s websites in English available today.

 

Men’s Health

 

This site does what it says on the cover. It mainly covers articles on the health of men. Look to this for articles on fitness and sport along with diet and food.

There are also articles on men’s mental health and some styling too.

The English level is intermediate.

 

The Art of Manliness

 

This is a tongue-in-cheek style magazine for men, written in a semi-humorous old-fashioned style. Because of this, it is a good source for male English learners as you get your head around the writing content.

The English level is more towards upper-intermediate.

 

Shortlist

 

Another magazine-style website with many features on men’s styling and tech. All real guy stuff.

English level is intermediate to upper-intermediate.

 

For more articles for men in English try these:

 

Maxim

 

GQ

 

Magazine

 

There are quite literally thousands of magazines online today. Many of these are great for English learners in search of good reading material to choose from.

Some also have English learners in mind as this is a huge growing market for the publishing industry.

 

Reader’s Digest

 

Reader’s Digest is as old as time itself. It has been around in one form or another for many years.

Now in a more contemporary style, it still has many articles and short stories to read.  This is an ideal source for English learners looking for a wide variety of content to read. You will definitely find something of interest on this website.

The English level is from intermediate to advanced.

 

Huffington Post

 

The Huffington Post is an internet giant. Originally founded by Arianna Huffington it now boasts millions of visitors.

There are quite literally thousands of articles on this website. Tons of news, opinion and blog posts. There is something for everyone on this site. Ideal for English learners.

As it has such a wide range of content, the English level is from lower intermediate to advanced.

Buzzfeed

 

Buzzfeed is a magazine style website with the emphasis being on fun. Written by and for millennials it is great for English learners looking for interesting, fun content.

You can find articles to read and thousands of lists. Buzzfeed is famous for its lists. There are also many quizzes to enjoy.

Not difficult reading, the English level is around intermediate for most of the content.

 

You can also try these other magazine-style websites:

 

Bored Panda

 

Mental Floss

 

Celebrity

 

Thousands of websites thrive on celebrities. Without famous people, many websites could not exist at all.

People love to read about movie stars, TV stars, music stars and any other stars in between. We find their lives captivating and want to read all the juicy gossip about them.

If this appeals to you, then the following websites will be of interest.

 

People

 

This website has many features on the stars, interviews with them and tons of news about showbiz gossip. It is very lightweight and kind of trashy but the simple and modern English style could appeal to many English learners.

English level is intermediate.

 

For more English reading on celebrities:

 

Hello

 

Heat

 

Entertainment Weekly

 

 

Business

 

Many English students either study business or work in a business-related job. Reading about business is a necessary part of their English study programme but often the kind of reading material they find is just too simple.

This is why you need to read real business articles on real business websites.

 

Entrepreneur

 

Entrepreneur is a website for the person starting their own business — hence the title, entrepreneur.

The articles are mostly about starting and owning a small business, inspiring stories from successful entrepreneurs and business owners and the tools required for starting a business.

Written in very clear English this site makes for perfect reading for the businessman or woman with their own company, needing to brush up their English reading comprehension, or the business student hoping to find suitable reading material for their studies.

The English level is intermediate to upper-intermediate.

 

Fast Company

 

A monthly magazine that features articles on business, technology and design.

With articles on working life, design and creativity this site would appeal to the English learner working in the creative sector.

Written in a frank but upbeat style, many of the articles have a very strong humorous streak.

The English level is intermediate to upper-intermediate.

 

Also, try these for more English articles on business:

 

Inc.

 

Forbes

 

The Economist

 

 

Special Interest

 

No matter what your interests are you can find a website that deals with it.

From weight-lifting to flower arranging to yoga to extreme sport — there is a website to suit your needs.

For the English learner with a special interest, these websites are a gold mine. You can dive into articles that explain and discuss the finer points of your free time activity on a deep level. Here you will find all the vocabulary and terminology that you are looking for.

Digital Photographer

 

This website has features about digital photography. No matter if you are a professional or amateur photographer, this covers all aspects of your passion.

The site analyses photographs, reviews equipment and has tutorials on taking better pictures.

The English level is upper-intermediate to advanced but that is because of all the technical vocabulary and terms. For the budding photographer, it may not be too much of an issue.

 

Lifehacker

 

This is a how-to website. It has thousands of tutorials on how to do practically anything. It is written in a very easy-to-understand style because they want their readers to come to terms with how to do something.

This is great for English learners trying to learn how to explain a process in English — perfect for IELTS students should they get a question on how to do something.

The English level is intermediate.

 

Kids

 

Time for Kids

 

It is what it says on the tin — Time magazine for kids.

A fantastic resource of reading material for younger students that not only match their English level but their interests too.

The articles are divided into convenient school grades so that you can find the right material for your level — from K1 to Grade 6.

As the site is for children, the English level ranges from beginner to intermediate. This also makes it ideal for beginner English learners looking for interesting reading material.

 

Also, try:

 

National Geographic Kids

 

Conclusion

 

This is far from being a comprehensive list of English websites for English students. But I hope I have given you some useful resources to look at.

It is a great idea to move away from your textbooks and find reading material that native speakers look at. This way you are reading ‘real English’ in a real environment — as opposed to the synthetic environment in your textbooks.

There really is no excuse when it comes to finding reading material online today. There is more choice now than there has ever been.

Don’t forget to keep your notebook handy for new words and phrases and your English comprehension will improve at a fantastic rate.

Good luck!

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