VOA Learning English Alternatives: The Best English News Learning Resources
This just in: there’s a great way to learn English while staying up to date on the latest headlines.
Just watch English news videos!
That’s right. You can learn English by news with the 15 great sites we’ll show in this article. All of them have interesting English news videos (as well as articles and audio clips) covering the latest current events.
Watching news in English can improve multiple language skills (like listening and speaking), teach you new vocabulary, keep you informed of current events and introduce you to cultural aspects of English-speaking countries.
Several of these news sources are specifically designed for English learners, with built-in transcripts, exercises and other helpful tools.
We’ve got the scoop on the best sites to learn English by news. Check out the insider information below!
Tips to Learn English Through News
Before you jump into our list of awesome English news resources, consider the following tips to help you get the most out of watching English news videos.
- Keep a vocabulary journal. This is one of the best ways to remember what you’ve learned and expand your vocabulary. Keep a notebook dedicated to English, and write down any new words you learn while you’re watching news videos.
Your vocabulary journal can also be used to keep track of words you don’t understand. Look them up after the news video is finished.
- Watch the same news video more than once. When we rewatch videos in another language, we notice different things each time. Start by watching a video to understand the overall news story, or the main idea. Then, watch it again to see if you can understand specific details, such as when or where a story took place. Watch it a third time to focus on vocabulary, pronunciation or grammar.
- Download transcripts when you can. If a news video has a transcript (a written version of the video) available, be sure to read it. Seeing the dialogue written out can help you check whether you understood the video correctly. You can always start by listening to the video the first time and then reading the transcript as you listen a second time.
You’ll find transcripts with several of the news sources in our list below.
- Watch news anchors (presenters) with different accents. Take this opportunity to expose yourself to a variety of English accents. Being able to communicate in English anywhere you go will be a huge help, whether you’re traveling, getting a new job or just trying to improve your English skills.
Our list of English news resources below includes options from across the English-speaking world.
- Pay attention to background images. Using the images in a news video’s background can provide you with clues about the story. These images can help you understand what the anchor is talking about and what happened in the story.
You can apply these tips to any news video you decide to watch. Check out the following resources for some great places to get started!
Learn English News: The Best News Video Sites for Language Learners
Steven French’s “News in Simple English” YouTube Series
Steven French has created tons of videos on how to learn various languages. These include his series of videos entitled “News in Simple English.”
This playlist features English news told in 60 seconds. These brief lessons include the transcript displayed on the screen, so you can follow along while listening.
Each news video briefly covers the biggest world news stories. They’re narrated slowly and clearly and feature language that’s geared toward English learners. That means it’s less difficult than language from authentic news sources.
The only downside to this YouTube series is that new videos aren’t uploaded as frequently as the other resources listed in this article. However, new videos do appear from time to time.
Simple English News
Simple English News is a site created for English learners. Each news story is specifically selected with language learners in mind.
Each story comes with an audio summary that’s spoken slowly and clearly, making it easier for lower-level learners to understand. They use appropriate vocabulary so that you can follow along with the story.
There’s also a written version of the summary. The original English news video will be below the written summary (not all stories come with a video).
The site’s news is conveniently divided into interesting subjects like travel, food, jokes, history, books and fashion.
The site has both shorter videos and longer ones in the form of 35-minute news documentaries. In addition to world news and lifestyle news, there are also videos specifically related to learning English. These videos cover everything from language tips to English idioms and proverbs.
While the focus of this article is video news, I do want to mention that, as a bonus, Simple English News also has wonderful written articles that are accompanied by audio clips.
Looking for an overview of the latest English news, all in one place? MSN News is a fantastic option. They gather their news videos from top U.S. news outlets (news sources) such as CNN, CBS, the Associated Press (AP), USA Today, The Washington Post and NBC.
You’ll find tons of videos on world news, U.S. news, politics, technology and more. Since their videos come from the major players (top companies) in the news industry, their videos are usually high-quality.
Access to the site, along with all of the videos, is completely free, and you can easily sort through the news by topic.
With such a wide variety of subjects, you can easily add new vocabulary to your repertoire (set of skills). Plus, you’ll never run out of videos to watch since the site adds new content daily.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
FluentU provides language learners with real-world English videos, including tons of news videos.
The news videos can be divided by language level, so they’re easy to search through and find one that matches your needs. There are six levels to choose from (Beginner 1, Beginner 2, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2, Advanced 1 and Advanced 2).
But FluentU isn’t just a video player. Every FluentU video comes with built-in learning tools that transform the videos into personalized language lessons.
For example, there are interactive subtitles. Just click on any word for an instant definition and grammar info. This means you’ll naturally learn new words while you immerse yourself in English.
There are also fun quizzes and flashcards to practice or test your knowledge of words you learned from the news videos.
Need a break from news? Watch authentic English music videos, movie trailers, inspiring speeches and lots more fun content—all with the same learning features.
Best of all, just like a newspaper, you can take FluentU anywhere with the mobile apps for iOS or Android.
BBC News’ YouTube Channel
Another wonderful free resource is BBC News, a division of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Specifically, their YouTube channel is a great place to find useful content. It’s updated with new videos every few hours, providing learners with plenty of fresh content.
What makes them great for English learners is that they have playlists of related news stories. For example, if you wanted to focus on learning more nature-themed English vocabulary, you could simply click on their playlist about saving the Leuser rainforest. That way, you can keep watching similar content and practicing related language without having to search for it.
Additionally, BBC News’ YouTube channel offers English news videos in a variety of formats. They have short videos of around one to three minutes for those of you who are in a hurry or just trying to squeeze in a quick English lesson. They also have longer documentaries of around 25 minutes to give you a fuller, more in-depth English lesson.
A final perk (positive aspect) of watching BBC News’ videos on YouTube is that you won’t have to sort through written news articles to find the videos. Many news sites have both videos and written news articles to read. Since BBC News has a YouTube channel, they can provide all of their videos in one place.
Global News provides the latest English news stories divided into categories, such as entertainment, health, politics, world news and more. There are both English news articles and videos. As you’re browsing, just look for the “Play video” button on the righthand images for the video news stories.
Global News is a Canadian outlet, which gives language learners an opportunity to practice an English accent that’s a bit different from British or American accents.
While they do provide a lot of local and national news, they also have plenty of videos on worldwide current events.
One of the best sections on their site is their trending news page. It has tons of popular videos on trending news and covers both serious and cute stories.
Another tool to take advantage of is Global News’ live broadcast, where you can watch in real time as the news is reported. This may be one of the best ways to put your English listening skills to the test as you watch the news while it unfolds.
ESL Video is another site made specifically for English learners.
They feature a range of English videos including news clips, which are accompanied by content made by teachers.
The site is free to use, and the additional content includes quizzes to test your knowledge of the videos.
The news videos sometimes have transcripts available as well, so you can read along with what’s being said during the video.
As we mentioned above, ESL Video’s content covers a wide range of subjects, and not all of their videos are news videos. However, the ones that are can be divided into categories like “science and technology,” if you want to practice specific vocabulary.
Learning English with CBC
This ESL resource comes from CBC Radio Canada. The site is geared toward English language learners and has plenty of news videos—and some audio clips—from which to choose.
The videos are labeled by English level, so you can choose the video that perfectly suits your study needs.
News subjects cover everything from Canadian news to sports to children’s news.
Each video is meant to help learners practice English grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation while learning about current events around the world and cultural facts about English speaking countries.
In addition to the many recent news videos, the site also has an extensive archive of stories from 2017 and earlier. These include both news interviews and longer stories.
Politico is an American newspaper and journalism company dedicated to sharing political news. They’re non-partisan, which means they tend to stick to the facts rather than twisting the story to suit their political beliefs.
They’re one of the top American news sites when it comes to political news, and they’re constantly adding new videos to their website.
Politico focuses on American politics, so it’s very specific in terms of subject matter. This makes it a great source to use if you’re looking to become more familiar with how the U.S. government works.
It’s also a great place to learn about American politics and foreign policy, which can affect countries around the world.
Additionally, you can expect to learn a ton of great vocabulary by studying words related to government, economics, policy, etc.
Good News Network
The Good News Network gives you a break from all of the sad and serious news in the world.
This site is dedicated to sharing positive, uplifting (happy) news stories from around the globe. Their news categories include happier options, such as “inspiring” and “laughs.”
You can expect to watch videos about animals, families and kids.
In addition to getting in your English lesson while watching happy news, the Good News Network typically provides slightly more in-depth written summaries to go along with their news videos.
In other words, there’s a longer summary of each video’s content to help you understand what’s happening if you have trouble following the story.
The Irish Times
The Irish Times offers English learners listening practice with yet another English accent.
Despite being based in Ireland and focusing on local and national news, The Irish Times also supplies plenty of videos covering international news.
Their news covers everything from sports to politics to culture, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
What makes these videos nice for English learners is that each news segment is quite short. Videos can last as little as 30 seconds and typically don’t run much past two minutes.
This makes them a perfect, bite-sized English lesson for learners who have busy schedules.
TechCrunch is a great site that specializes in international news related to technology. That includes stories about the latest electronics, cars, apps, robotics and startups.
This news site will introduce you to tons of great vocabulary, and the topics covered by the videos are super interesting.
You can easily divide news videos by subject, such as interviews, reviews and gadgets (tech tools).
The best thing is that some of the videos have captions available in a number of languages, not just English. That means that you may be able to find subtitles in your native language, which can be a big help when it comes to understanding the English videos.
Some of the caption options I’ve seen include Spanish, Italian, French, Dutch and Japanese.
CTV News is a Canada-based news site that has tons of videos.
Their news videos cover both national and international stories. You’ll have access to just about any type of vocabulary you can think of, as there’s also extensive coverage of lifestyle news, such as pop culture, health and entertainment.
The best thing about this news source is that English captions are available with most of the videos. That means that you can check your understanding of pronunciation, learn how to spell a word or use the subtitles to help you know what words to look up in a dictionary.
SBS News is based in Australia, exposing English learners to yet another unique English accent.
This is another resource that provides tons of opportunities to expand your vocabulary, as it covers a wide array of topics like small businesses, sports and cultural news.
While many of SBS News’ videos are focused on Australian news, there are tons of them that talk about world news as well.
New videos are added every few hours, so you’ll never run out of stories to watch.
Plus, just about every story is accompanied by a longer summary and additional photographs to provide you with more insight into what’s happening in the video.
While most videos are short, there are occasionally longer options that provide you with a deeper look at a story, which is perfect if you’re looking for a longer English lesson.
“The Daily Show”
“The Daily Show” is an American news TV show with a comical twist.
The show is currently hosted by Trevor Noah and pokes fun at current affairs, politicians and various types of news stories.
Watching “The Daily Show” provides you with a source of news, as well as insight into American comedy. By watching Noah’s intonation and how he sets up jokes, you’ll start to be able to better understand how to deliver humor in English.
Additionally, you’ll learn a lot about American culture and how different news is perceived and interpreted by U.S. citizens.
The great thing about this site is that there are thousands of shorter video clips to choose from, as well as hundreds of full-length episodes available for free online.
Finally, if you’re able to follow along with the news videos, you’re sure to have a good laugh!
Now that you’ve got the inside scoop on where to find the best English news videos, you’re all set to start watching!