If you are an English learner, a great way to improve your General English is to read the news.
Reading the news is great practise for formal English such as business or politics. But it is also a fantastic way to help you improve your informal English. Many newspapers and news sites feature light-hearted articles and stories.
Reading the news is also good to help you understand the culture of America, the UK and many other countries.
Newspapers and news sites have to appeal to a wide audience, so they often cover many different topics. Apart from the usual topics of politics, business and world events, most news sites have sections on show business, fashion, art, books, health, education and travel.
You can read about lots of subjects all in one convenient place.
And I have often spoken of the benefits of reading English out loud and how this can help you with your spoken English. Reading the news out loud is perfect for this.
You really need to make reading the news part of your daily English practice. It will help you boost your English reading skills, but also you could see a big improvement in your English vocabulary.
Let’s take a look at how reading the news can help you and what you need to do.
Broadsheet or Tabloid?
Essentially, there are two kinds of newspapers or news sites.
The serious news sites — and the less serious.
The serious news sites deal with the news very seriously. They cover all the details and go into the stories deeply.
And the less serious news sites just cover the main parts of the news stories. They are much less serious — and in many ways can be quite funny.
Years ago, the serious newspapers were called Broadsheets. These were big newspapers with many pages that covered all the politics, business and economics of the day.
Difficult to read and very, very serious.
There were also the tabloids.
These newspapers were much less serious, more fun-oriented and mainly dealing in stories about gossip, rumours and showbiz. Their headlines were shocking and often had an exclamation mark in the title. The stories were all sensational and not entirely based on facts.
Both of these styles of newspapers or news sites can be useful for you and your English study.
You can read the serious newspapers for in-depth articles on a variety of topics. Your English vocabulary will grow and you will be able to read different styles of English using context related to many subjects.
And for the tabloid-style news, your colloquial English will explode. You will learn a lot of modern everyday terms in English. Current idiomatic English and some contemporary slang that is in use today.
So take advantage of both styles. There are so many news sites to choose from that you can easily change from one news platform to another.
All of this is great practise for reading in different writing styles and voices. So dig in!
Read the News Every Day
With news apps available to download to your smartphone, there is really no excuse to not read the news every day.
I rarely like to encourage students to use their smartphones so much, but for reading the news in English, I think smartphones definitely have their uses.
All newspapers today have their own website. Many others have their own app.
You can access these news sites anywhere and at any time of the day. On your way to college on the bus, during your lunch break from work.
And in order to gain maximum benefit from reading the news, you must read the news every day.
Submerge yourself into the language of the news regularly, read articles every single day to accustom yourself with the style of English that the writers use.
You will find that as you read the news every day, your reading comprehension skills will grow and your English vocabulary will also expand at a huge rate.
All it needs is ten minutes a day.
Choose the Right News Section for You
If you feel you can’t read the news — or you think it is just dull and boring — then you need to think about which section of the news you read every day.
It is no use reading about heavy politics or very serious issues about the economy if you have zero interest in it.
Most news sites these days have many different sections that you can choose from.
Common news sections include:
- national news
- international news
- local news
These are just some of the regular kinds of articles you can find in many newspapers and news sites.
Just choose the news you are interested in and dive in.
Change Newspapers Regularly
Once you get into a regular pattern of reading the news every day, then you should change newspapers or news sites regularly.
This will challenge your reading comprehension skills and you will also open yourself to other writing styles.
It is very important to see how different writers from different newspapers present the news.
By changing newspapers regularly, you will also improve your English vocabulary.
Discuss the News with Friends
And talk to your classmates or friends about the news.
The news is a great topic to discuss in English, because our opinions will often differ over certain issues.
You could start an English News Group in your school and get together to read news articles and talk about them. This will really help with your English speaking skills.
Reading in Context
Just by reading news articles that interest you, you will read English in context.
For example, if you read an article about the environment and plastic waste, then you will see English words and phrases that are related to the same topic. All of these words and phrases will be in the context of the environment and plastic waste.
This is very important if you want to develop your English reading comprehension skills. It is also great for improving your range of English vocabulary.
Every English learner should do this.
Develop Critical Thinking
Another scientifically proven fact about reading is that it improves your critical thinking skills.
Critical thinking is the ability to think about ideas and opinions. To use your rational thinking to evaluate what you are reading.
It can help you join the dots between ideas and improve your independent thinking.
Critical thinking skills are a great asset in your life and something you should work hard on.
Simply by reading the news on a daily basis, you can develop your critical thinking skills.
Just pick an article and read it, and think about what you just read. Think about what the writer is saying, what ideas they are trying to express, and how they are presenting their thoughts and opinions.
Reading the news regularly will really help you gain critical thinking skills.
Improve your Vocabulary
And of course, the biggest benefit of all is that by reading the news every day your range of English vocabulary will grow to a massive level.
This is the main advantage of reading the news and one that you should take very seriously.
These are the steps to follow to make sure your vocabulary improves:
- Find a new word when reading the news
- Write the new word in your English Vocabulary notebook
- Look up the meaning of the word in your dictionary
- Write the meaning down in your notebook
- Think of a sentence of your own using the new word
- Write the sentence in your notebook
If you are serious about doing this, your English vocabulary will get better and better.
You will be able to express yourself more clearly in speaking and writing.
Your ability to fully understand what you are reading will improve.
Gaining more vocabulary is just a great thing to do for your general English skills and ability.
English News Websites
Good Websites for English Learners
General English News Sites
If you are new to reading the news in English, start small.
Find a news app with simple English — maybe one that is suggested just above — and try to read that every day.
Remember to make notes of new English vocabulary every day — this will really help all your English skills.
And when you are feeling more confident and comfortable with reading, move on to more serious news websites and tackle some bigger articles.
Once you make an effort to read the news in English, you will find your ability to read other things will improve too. It just takes some time and patience.
Good luck… and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!