When was the last time you watched or listened to the news?
It was probably very recently.
There is so much happening in the world every day, and there are so many ways to learn about what is happening.
You may see a news clip on TV, read an article online or listen to a radio show. You may even pick up a newspaper or receive a newsletter in an email.
The news surrounds us!
So why not combine this opportunity to stay informed with your desire to learn and improve your English?
Tuning into local or global news in English is an excellent and creative way to study English.
First, the biggest advantage of studying the news is that this resource comes in all shapes and sizes. Whatever your preferred format is, it is out there! Do you prefer to learn with videos? Audios? Text? There is English news provided in your favorite format.
Second, no matter what your English level is, you can benefit from studying the news in English! How do you do that? This post will tell you exactly that. We will explain how you can study with each type of news source at each skill level.
The 4 Top Types of News Sources for Learning English
1. Online News Articles
In our day and age, the Internet allows you to access all sorts of information. Finding news online to read and study is very easy. There are many online news websites that are reputable (trustworthy). Also, major print publications like newspapers and magazines put a lot of their content online, so you have a lot of choices when it comes to online news.
Why read online news articles?
Written news articles are perfect for studying grammar and vocabulary. You can go at your own pace (speed) and work with each article you find interesting for as long as you want.
There is lots of variety. You can choose practically any topic and format for your news content, like breaking news, local news or analytical news pieces. Different types of news articles will work for different levels of English. Choose simpler stories, like ones on local or humorous topics, to read simpler English.
It is convenient. Because you will be reading news stories online, you can read them anytime you want on your phone or laptop. You can even bookmark them, download them or print them on paper.
How to study English with online news articles
If you are a beginner student of English, read short news stories about your local region. This way, you will be able to work with short articles on simple topics that are probably already familiar to you. You will also encounter (find) new vocabulary that will be useful and applicable to where you live.
If you are an intermediate student, choose more complex topics and international news. You can also follow live and updated coverage of major events, like the US presidential election. This will give you a lot of material to work with, and it will also expand your existing vocabulary for the topics that interest you most.
If you are an advanced student, seek out long-form analytical pieces that provide commentary on major news events. These articles will often have more complex grammar for you to analyze as well as useful vocabulary to improve your own written English. You can focus on learning from the writing style in these analytical articles in order to sound clear and intelligent in your own English writing.
Resources for online news articles
Here are some great sources for online written news:
Reuters is a leading news agency that maintains its political and financial independence. It can be relied on for accurate news and neutral reporting. It has numerous editions for specific regions that you can choose from, but be sure to read the ones in English!
The Huffington Post offers a more entertaining perspective on news and current events. Depending on the edition, you can read American, Canadian, British and Australian coverage of a variety of topics. It is an ideal resource for intermediate English learners.
USA Today is a very reputable American newspaper focusing on US and world news. Its online version is accessible, easy to read and provides timely coverage of all sorts of important news topics. This news source is great for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners alike.
2. Print News
Print publications may be considered old-fashioned by some, but they are still popular all over the world. Many people like reading newspapers and magazines! And there is no reason why you shouldn’t read some print news in English to help you improve your language skills.
Why read print news publications?
Print publications feature great writing. While there are lots of quality online news sources, major newspapers are still considered the foundation of good journalism. Teams of editors make sure that what you read has proper grammar and style, no typos or errors. Facts are checked and objectivity has to be present. Newspapers are ideal for studying the more formal way to communicate in English, including vocabulary, sentence structure and grammar.
You can have them delivered to your house. You can subscribe to a newspaper of your choice, as many American and British publications mail their newspapers all over the globe. (Unfortunately, it could be a bit expensive.)
You can interact with the stories. Write your notes and ideas directly in the magazines and newspapers that you have! Play with the papers. Cut out favorite stories and save them for later. Put stories on a poster on your wall so you can read them more often. Circle or highlight new words that you want to learn.
There is just one disadvantage. Depending on where you live, finding newspapers or magazines in English can be difficult. If you do not live in an English-speaking country, try checking your local expat communities, international stores or English clubs. Some libraries may also carry English newspapers, although the news may not be as up to date as you would like.
How to study English with print news publications
Once you have the newspaper you would like to use as a resource, this is what you do.
If you are a beginner, focus on the bigger picture. Some articles may be too difficult for you. You may not understand what is being discussed. Do not worry! Scan the articles quickly and look for familiar words. Find words that you have heard before, translate them and practice using them in a sentence. Try to understand the most general ideas expressed in the news pieces. It is the reading practice that matters!
If you are an intermediate English speaker, work with each news item in depth. Translate unknown words, identify phrasal verbs, read and reread the article to understand it all. Each newspaper issue can provide hours and hours of English practice for you!
If you are an advanced English speaker, enjoy the practice of reading in English. Look for common expressions used by journalists. Analyze them. How formal are they? How informal? Are they applicable only to certain topics? Can you “borrow” some of them to use in your everyday English practice?
Resources for print news publications
Here are some high-quality newspapers you could read:
The New York Times is quite possibly the most famous American newspaper which covers local, regional, national and international news. You can subscribe to it anywhere in the world and receive physical copies by mail.
The Wall Street Journal is another major publication based in New York City that is famous the world over. You will find financial, political and culture news covered in every issue. It is often sold in newspaper kiosks even outside the US.
The Guardian is the leading British newspaper known for its objective coverage of the most difficult political issues and news both in the UK and internationally. It is distributed worldwide, but especially in Europe and the neighboring countries.
If you prefer magazines, Magazine Line has a big selection of interesting magazines that cover news and politics at discounted (lower) prices. Just go to the “Categories” menu in the upper-left corner, and click on “News & Politics.” If you’re a college student, also check the “Student and Educator Rates” section at the bottom of the home page—here you can find out how to save even more money on magazine subscriptions.
3. TV News Broadcasts
This is how we all used to watch the news before the Internet era. So, if you have English-language news channels on your TV, use them to your advantage!
Why watch TV news broadcasts?
It is very easy. Turning on your English news channel is the easiest way to get your dose of English practice when you have very little time to study. It is especially convenient for mornings, when you may hear the latest news while getting ready for your day and even having breakfast.
You already like TV. Watching TV is something we are all used to! It does not require an Internet connection, so you may watch English news anywhere where there is a TV screen (and some English channels).
You can easily find ways to watch TV news. It is especially a nice way to get some English practice when you are traveling, since every hotel room usually has a TV with popular English broadcasts.
How to study English with TV news broadcasts
Leave your TV on in the background. One of the best ways to keep learning English is to have your TV on when you are at home and doing your daily tasks. This way you can listen to English when you are cleaning, doing the dishes or cooking. You may not even look at the TV screen all the time. As long as you can hear English being spoken, you will be listening to it and learning from it. The more the TV is on, the less you will notice it, but your mind will keep learning!
This kind of passive practice takes no extra time at all, but it is very useful. In fact, this is listening practice at its best, since you cannot really pause or rewind the news. You may only hear some news stories once, but the more you hear news stories, the more you will understand what is being said.
Once or twice a week, take the time to sit down and actually watch the news reports. Seeing the footage (video) that comes with them will help you understand and interpret the news. This is highly useful for all English levels.
Resources for TV news
Here are some channels you are likely to find on your TV:
CNN is an around-the-clock news channel that you can watch at any time to catch up on current events. This American channel is the one usually available on cable outside of the US, for example, in South America and Central America. It focuses on American news.
Euronews, on the other hand, is the international news channel most easily found on European television sets. This channel reports on current events in Europe, the US and the Middle East, with occasional breaking news from other regions.
Eurosport is the subsidiary (part of) Euronews that provides 24/7 coverage of sports news across the world. It is a great choice if you get tired of listening to politics! The channel is very popular in European countries, but provides a lot of coverage of American sports events too.
4. Online Video News
No English news channels on your TV? No problem!
Why watch online news videos?
It’s easy! A lot of news channels stream their content online, and it is free. The Internet makes it really easy to watch news in English online too, and here you have more freedom to do so when and how you want.
There are lots of different online news channels that focus on specific interests. For example, fashion news, sports news, local political news, environmental news, entertainment news… No matter what your interests are, there is an online news source with video content for you.
You can watch carefully, pause and rewind. Online video news shows are especially suited for learning or improving English, because most of them come in short video clips that are easy to study and replay when necessary. They also won’t consume much of your bandwidth, like streaming movies online might.
How to study English with online news videos?
Video news are perfect for practicing listening skills, just like the regular TV news are.
If you are a beginner student, try to watch English news that cover your local area or a topic of interest that you are really familiar with. Do not hesitate to replay the clips as often as you need and take note of words you may not understand (there will be many). Have a dictionary or Google Translate on hand.
If you are an intermediate student, focus on understanding the news content really well. Choose two or three news clips to watch, and do it as often as you can, preferably every day, to get regular listening practice. You may also watch global news or sports news for variety!
If you are an advanced student, work with several news sources at a time to compare the coverage of the same news events. Listen for different vocabulary and for different perspectives on the same topics. Find news content that features interviews with public figures or ordinary people to get additional listening practice on accents and pronunciations. The news is great for that!
Resources for online video news
In addition to the news channels described above (CNN, Euronews, Eurosport), all of which can be watched online, you should also check out:
VICE News is a popular news service that focuses on investigative journalism and covering news from unexpected angles. VICE Video section streams not only news, but also documentaries and videos sorted by topic of interest.
Al Jazeera is an award-winning news agency focusing on the news from the Middle East, which also has excellent news coverage on international and US current events. You can go directly to their list of channels and videos to see what is available. The section called The Last 24 provides access to the most recent news.
FluentU is another cool option. It is perfect for anyone who wants to start watching English news online and learn the most from it
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.The current events coverage and specialty news topics are available in a convenient and easy-to-watch format. You can interact with every FluentU video, build vocabulary lists, use flashcard decks, click on interactive subtitles and play games in learn mode to work on your vocabulary and grammar skills, too.
News may not always to be a source of happy and easy-to-read material, but it sure is a great tool to learn English. The number of topics and materials available to you within the news sections of major publications, websites and TV channels is almost unlimited.
No matter what your level of English is, you can benefit from adding news to your English study routine.
There are so many ways to do that! This post highlighted just some of them.
Be sure to find your own ways… and don’t forget to have fun while studying!
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.