In 1663 in Germany, something incredible happened. The world got its very first magazine!
Since then, magazines have been created to cover every topic you can imagine.
At one point, famous authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the author of Sherlock Holmes) even wrote their masterpieces—their most incredible written works—in magazines.
Do magazines even publish such brilliant works of art anymore?
What if you could learn English while you read about your favorite hobby?
Actually, magazines publish a lot of fantastic writing today—and there is a magazine for any hobby that interests you!
Love fashion? Love movies? There’s a magazine for you.
Are you a fan of fishing only one specific kind of fish? There’s still probably a magazine for you.
In fact, the reading level of most English magazines is around 6th grade, making them ideal for English learners.
Learn to Read English with 10 Cool English Magazines
Magazine Activities for Learning English
Even if you just read the magazines and enjoy their content, you will be learning new words, sentence structures and common sayings.
If you want to take your learning a step further, here are some activities you can do with English magazines that will help you study English actively.
You can do these out loud, by writing, through discussion with someone else or even just silently in your head.
- Describe the pictures. Most magazines have a lot of pictures. Choose some pictures and describe what you see in them, out loud or in writing. You can find more ideas on how to learn using pictures in this article.
- Add speech and thoughts. Are there any people (or animals) in the pictures? Imagine what they would be saying or thinking.
- Summarize the articles. You can test how well you understood an article by trying to summarize it. Can you describe what the article is about in a sentence or two? If you can’t, try reading it again and take care to see the meaning instead of the individual words.
- Discuss the articles. If you read about an event that just happened, or even if you just find something interesting, share it with someone. Have a conversation about it. It will be a great way to practice your understanding of the article and your conversation skills.
- Ask the author. Sometimes reading an article leaves you with more questions. If you could ask the author anything, what would it be? What else would you want to know about the topic?
- Diversify your reading practice with FluentU: Many English learners avoid reading practice because it can get overwhelming and a bit lonely. FluentU can help you apply your new reading skills in a different context, so you stay focused (and have fun!).
FluentU provides authentic English videos like movie trailers, funny TV commercials, inspiring talks and more. Each video comes with interactive subtitles. Click any word you don’t recognize for an instant definition. You can also search for words that you found in magazines and FluentU will show you videos that use the word.
FluentU is a great tool to keep you entertained while improving your reading skills. You might even reward yourself with a FluentU video after finishing a magazine article. Plus, you can take it anywhere along with your magazines thanks to the FluentU mobile app for iOSand for Android.
Finding the Best English Magazines for Learning
Now that you know how to use your magazines, it’s time to choose one (or a few!). Most of these are available either in print format, or via the newsstand sections in the Android and iOS stores. Some of the magazines even have articles available online in case you want to read some stories before you decide to subscribe.
If you decide to subscribe to any of the magazines, you can do so on any of their websites or visit Amazon’s magazine section to browse them all in one place and sometimes even get a discount (lower price).
You can find some of the magazines below for a discounted rate at Magazine Line, which is also a great place to search for more English-language magazines by category. Some magazines give even bigger discounts for college students. So if you’re in college, be sure to check out “Student and Educator Rates” at the bottom of the home page.
10 Fantastic Magazines for Learning English
1. Mental Floss
Perfect if you like: interesting trivia and facts.
What you’ll find inside: What does outer space smell like? Why isn’t cat food mouse-flavored?
If you’re the kind of person who asks yourself these questions, you’ll love Mental Floss. Each issue is full of bite-sized (small bits) trivia and mostly short articles with really interesting facts that you’ll want to share with others. The writing is fun and friendly, so it’s easy to understand the answers to the more difficult questions.
While the print edition of the magazine stopped publishing in 2016, you can still read Mental Floss online (use the link above).
2. Fast Company
Perfect if you like: business and learning how successful companies work.
What you’ll find inside: Fast Company is one of the more approachable (easy-to-read) magazines about business and companies. It has many interviews and features of successful people, as well as general news about interesting new companies. It does use a higher level of writing than is usual for magazines, so give it a try first to make sure you can understand the articles.
By the way, if you’re learning your English for work, you’ll want to check out Creativa.
Creativa provides premium, highly produced videos for learning English and business communication skills. Creativa provides entertaining videos, useful but unexpected tips, and goes beyond just English to teach you body language and intonation. Creativa is a new product from the FluentU team.
Here’s a sample video from Creativa’s Mastering Business Video Calls in English course, which has tips for expressing yourself effectively:
Perfect if you like: inspiring stories about people.
What you’ll find inside: Reader’s Digest is not actually about books or reading. Instead, it is about people. Inside you’ll find anecdotes—short, personal articles about things that have happened to people. There are stories in simple writing about everything from funny celebrity moments and inspiring personal stories to funny jokes and articles.
Perfect if you like: excellent literature and short stories.
What you’ll find inside: Cricket and Cicada are literary magazines aimed at teenagers. Each issue is full of wonderful short stories and poems, and beautiful illustrations. Even though these are technically children’s magazines, they are perfect for learning English because they have high quality writing, with definitions of some of the more difficult words.
5. TIME and TIME For Kids
Perfect if you like: expertly-written news and current events.
What you’ll find inside: TIME is one of the most well-known magazines in the world. Inside you’ll find news, beautiful photographs and everything you need to get a “deeper understanding of the world in which we live.” Since TIME is very high quality and provides deep insight on many serious topics, it can also be difficult for English learners to read. If you have trouble understanding TIME, try TIME For Kids, which has similarly great content but is written in a simpler way.
Perfect if you like: celebrity gossip.
What you’ll find inside: What’s your favorite celebrity doing? Who’s getting divorced in Hollywood? People has all the celebrity gossip you could want. It’s a great way to get to know the culture and stars of the movie business. If you don’t already know some of these celebrities this magazine might not be interesting for you. You may to do a little research on celebrity lives before trying this magazine.
Perfect if you like… fashion and beautiful people.
What you’ll find inside: If you love fashion and looking great, you’ll enjoy Vogue. There is a big focus on art, style and gorgeous photography, so you can enjoy the magazine visually while you read it. The articles are dense (have a lot of words close together) so instead of trying to read everything you might want to try choosing one article and working your way through it slowly. Definitely a lot of new words to learn here!
Perfect if you like: classy articles for men.
What you’ll find inside: ShortList is a free magazine (if you subscribe, they only charge you for shipping!). It’s written for “high class” men who live in cities and covers a lot of different topics. Whether you’re a man or woman you will find something interesting here. The writing is sophisticated but not too difficult to understand—perfect for intermediate English learners who are looking for a bit of a challenge to help them learn even more English.
Perfect if you like: Traveling and learning about other places.
What you’ll find inside: Take a trip to a new place without even leaving your chair. Sunset is full of amazing pictures and simple writing about places around the world. This magazine has tips on where to stay and what to eat, and it talks about interesting and fun things you can find in different places.
Perfect if you like: taking pictures with your camera or phone.
What you’ll find inside: This magazine is eye candy—it’s full of colors and is very pleasing to look at. There are many tips and guides on how to take great pictures, and they are written in simple and easy-to-understand English (although there are some technical camera terms, of course). You feel like the writers are talking to you! You can impress your friends with your improved English and your new photography skills!
These magazines are just the beginning of what’s available out there!
There are magazines about dogs, golf, people with tattoos and so many other different topics.
If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll learn better and faster!
Oh, and One More Thing…
If you like learning English real English, you should also check out the FluentU app. Like the website, the FluentU app lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app 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 “brought,” 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 recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.