The internet connects people in ways that were never possible before.
It’s a place for communicating, sharing and learning.
It’s also a place where you can find some incredible English writing.
When you think of getting English reading practice, you probably think of books or magazines.
You might think of going online when you want to learn internet slang, or talk to others.
But there’s so much more to discover online!
There are some amazing websites out there for natives that provide great content written in excellent English.
By visiting certain websites, you can improve your English reading skills while learning something new about a topic you enjoy.
So choose something that interests you, and let’s go learn some English!
How Reading English Online Will Help You Learn English
Let me start by telling you that there’s a place where you can improve your reading skills with a wonderful twist: FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.You might think videos and reading don’t have anything in common, but thta’s so not true! Every FluentU video includes a set of interactive subtitles, so you’ll be reading everything you’re watching and listening to. Give FluentU a free try and you’ll be surprised!
Reading online has many benefits. Online reading is:
- Portable: That means you can take it anywhere! If you have a device that connects to the internet, and an internet connection, you can read. (No need to carry around a bulky book or a large magazine.)
- Always updating: When you finish a book, you have to get a new one. When you finish an online article, you can just wait a day or so for more articles to be published.
- Well-written: Not everything online is written in internet slang. Many websites have great writers and editing teams to make sure what you’re reading is the best quality English.
- Easy to understand: Online articles and blogs are meant to be read by everyone, so the language is usually easy to understand.
- Fun: There’s a website for everything! You’re sure to find something that you find interesting.
Since you’re probably reading this online on an internet-connected device, you’re already halfway there. All you need now is to choose a website (or a few websites) to learn from. Before you go exploring online, though, it’s important to understand how these websites can teach you English reading skills.
Tips for English Reading Practice with Native Websites
There are a few different kinds of websites that can help you practice reading English. Blogs are more casual websites with writing on them. They’re often personal and run by a single person who shares their experiences or thoughts with their readers. Some websites are more like online magazines, which publish longer articles about certain topics. Others are news websites, which usually have shorter articles about current events (things that are happening now).
All these websites can help you learn, if you use them the right way. To do that, you’ll need to choose the best websites for you to follow. When you’re browsing through our list of great websites to learn from, keep these things in mind:
- Level of difficulty: The ideal website should be slightly challenging for you to read (this will help you improve your reading and keep pushing yourself to get even better). If you’re an advanced English learner, don’t use a beginner resource. If you’re a beginner, don’t use a website for advanced learners.
- Type of language used: Blogs usually use friendly, casual language, while news websites use more professional and business-like words. Magazines can use either type of language—it depends on the magazine.
- Frequency of posting: How often does the website update their content? A blog that updates once a month might not be enough to learn from. A website that posts four articles a day might be overwhelming (remember that you don’t have to read each article, though).
- Topic: You want to read about something you care about!
Once you choose the perfect website based on these factors, you can begin to learn. Here are some ideas for learning with online content:
- Skim before reading: Before you even start reading, take a look at the article. Many websites separate their writing into chunks using subheadings. (We do that at FluentU: The subheading of this section is Tips for English Reading Practice with Native Websites.) You can get some sense of what you’ll read by looking at these subheadings, and glancing at the pictures. Doing this will help you prepare for the reading, and maybe even understand it better.
- Read and summarize: After you read an article, try to explain it in your own words. You can write down your summary, or pretend you’re telling a friend about it.
- Make word lists: You don’t have to understand every word in order to understand an article, but there are some words you’ll just have to look up. Instead of stopping to check the dictionary every time you find a word you don’t know, write these words down. Look them up after you’ve finished reading. Then read the article again. Do you understand it better now?
- Read the comments: When you finish reading the article, scroll down to the comments (if there are any). Comments are not always useful, but sometimes they can add more information or another point of view to what you just read about. Add your own comment, and join the discussion.
- Click on relevant links: If you find an interesting link in the article, or following it, click and move on to the next article. This keeps you reading—the more you read, the better you will get at it. To keep yourself from getting distracted halfway through an article, open all new links in new tabs (right-click on the link and choose “open link in new tab”).
Use these tips and you’ll improve your reading skills even faster!
The Top 12 Native Websites for English Reading Practice
We’ve organized these websites by topic. To use the list, just scroll down to a topic that interests you, and check out the websites listed. Or just go down the list one by one. Who knows? You might even find a new interest.
Hobbies and Entertainment
A Beautiful Mess
What it is: Sisters Elsie and Emma share their favorite crafts, home decor and cooking projects in one of the most widely-read blogs online.
What to expect: The language is extremely upbeat and playful, and each blog reads as though one of the sisters is talking to you over a cup of coffee. Study their instruction posts to learn how to explain yourself clearly.
Sample article: “5 Easy Watercolor Techniques”
What it is: Matt has been traveling the world since 2006, and he shares his experiences and travel tips on this blog.
What to expect: Matt uses very simple language so anyone can use his knowledge to plan their own trips. You can learn a lot about other cultures here, how to plan a trip of your own (without spending too much money) and other topics that would interest fans of traveling.
Sample article: “How to Plan a Trip to a Place You Know Nothing About”
Fashion and Style
What it is: A huge online magazine for teenage girls and young women. There are articles about style, fashion, entertainment and some current events from a different perspective.
What to expect: Refinery uses an informal writing style, and sometimes also uses internet slang. This is a good place to get in touch with how younger internet users write and speak (and dress). You’ll come across a lot of fashion terms, so have that dictionary ready (better yet, just Google Image search fashion terms to immediately understand what they are).
Sample article: “How to Dress Amazing When You’re Super Busy & Not a Millionaire”
What it is: A magazine for career women who are (or want to be) successful while still looking and feeling fantastic.
What to expect: Articles on this website are a bit more sophisticated in language, since they speak towards an audience of intelligent women. They’re still perfect for intermediate and even beginner English learners.
Sample article: “6 Ways to De-stress for Free”
What it is: Expert life and style tips for men, teaching how to live and dress like a gentleman.
What to expect: This is like the male version of Jezebel, but with a bigger emphasis on how to be classy (stylish or well-mannered). The language is somewhere between “intelligent man” and “bro.” That is, it’s a mix of more complex writing while still being friendly. Intermediate English learners should feel comfortable here.
Sample article: “57 Life Tips That Will Instantly Make You a Better Man”
News and Current Events
What it is: Feature-length articles about pop culture, opinion pieces about serious current events and issues. Interesting things about the world we live in, and the people who live in it.
What to expect: Vice is not a typical news outlet, since it includes a lot of opinion in its articles. Vice is a great place to learn more about American culture and the issues it’s facing. The writing is more complex, and may cause some trouble for early-intermediate English learners. Try an article: If you don’t get it, you probably need something a little simpler (work your way up to this!).
Sample article: “Was an Innocent Man Sent to Prison for Killing a Cop 46 Years Ago?”
What it is: News from National Public Radio, on everything from culture and current events, to art and music.
What to expect: Some of the articles on the NPR website are more difficult to read, as it’s a serious news and arts website. Many articles also include an audio clip as well as a written transcript of the audio file, which makes it perfect for English reading practice. Listen and read along, or read and then listen, to make sure you got things right.
Sample article: “‘Roaring Wind’ Examines Extreme Weather, and the Power of Air”
Science and Technology
What it is: The latest news in science and nature, presented in easy-to-read articles.
What to expect: Discover takes scientific research papers and news, and turns them into enjoyable and approachable articles. You don’t need to know too many science-related vocabulary words to understand these articles, making them perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the topic.
Sample article: “Honeybees Have Personalities (Sort Of)”
What it is: A tech news website with reviews and articles about gadgets, new technology and video games.
What to expect: TechCrunch assumes its readers already know some things about technology, so expect some tech words that you might need to look up.
Sample article: “Apollo Shield Launches System That Sends Unwanted Drones Home”
History and Trivia
What it is: Interesting stories about strange places around the world. Tales from history about curious people, places and events.
What to expect: The writing on this website is a bit more complex, but if you love history, it’s worth working your way through it just for the incredibly unique stories.
Sample article: “The Forgotten Tale of How America Converted Its 1980 Olympic Village into a Prison”
What it is: Trivia and interesting facts about everything from nature and animals, to people and history.
What to expect: Unlike Atlas Obscura, Mental Floss uses a friendly and simple writing style. Check out their language section to learn some things you might not have known about the English language.
Sample article: “11 Places to Visit on a Tour of the English Language”
What it is: Tips and tricks for making your life easier, one small thing at a time.
What to expect: Clear instructions and informative articles make Lifehacker useful to anyone. Some “hacks” (tricks or ways to make things easier) involve language and learning, and might be especially useful for English learners. Others are just useful!
Sample article: “Use These Scripts to Talk to Your Boss When You’re Overworked”
The best thing about reading online is that you can start at any of these websites, and explore other related topics and websites from there.
Find your new favorite website, and practice your English reading skills with something you actually enjoy and care about.
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.