An incredible English learning resource has been hiding in plain sight for 40 years.
It provides reading and listening opportunities to increase English fluency.
It even teaches you about American culture.
Think you know what I am talking about? Well, it might not be what you are thinking.
I am talking about The Cable News Network (CNN).
Yes, this American news outlet is a perfect language-learning tool.
CNN launched in 1980. Today, it offers TV shows, news programs, articles, tweets, e-mail alerts and more. And all of these free resources can help you improve your English fluency.
Along the way, you will learn a lot about current events in the U.S. and internationally.
So we have gathered the seven best CNN resources you can use to learn English.
Ready to stay current and improve your fluency? Read on!
Why Learn English with CNN?
- Gain experience reading and listening to English. CNN offers news shows and articles. So, by using CNN to learn English, you will be exposed to written and spoken English. This will help you gain practice in both aspects of the English language.
- You will stay up-to-date with current events. Not only will you improve your English fluency, but you will also know what is happening in the news.
- This will help if you want a career in journalism. Have you thought about a career in English-language journalism? If so, you should be familiar with the terms and phrases that are used in this field.Even if you want to be a journalist in your native language, knowing English news terms will still help a lot—whether you are covering international news or networking with English-speaking media professionals.
How to Transform CNN into an English Learning Tool
- Be an active participant. When you are using CNN to learn English, it is important to be an active viewer and reader. That means you should take notes when you are watching CNN clips or reading articles.Pause or rewind the news program to make sure you understood everything. Reread articles until you start recognizing difficult words.
To learn English words even more actively, try FluentU.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU 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'll 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 is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
When you use FluentU to watch news clips, you’ll hear many of the same words that are used on CNN. The FluentU app lets you practice using those words and gives you the chance to see them used in a few different ways.
The custom quizzes track your progress. You’ll see right away how well you understand what you’re watching.
If you’re having a hard time learning certain English words, you can even use FluentU to create custom flashcard sets, so you can practice more with those tricky words.
- Watch and read more than once (and take notes). It has been shown that repetition helps with language learning. So, record CNN shows and watch them a few times. Read the same article over and over.The repetition will help expand your vocabulary. Also, do not forget to take notes of any words you do not recognize. If you cannot use context clues to understand these words, do not be afraid to pause and look up their definitions.
- Be patient with yourself. No matter what, it is essential to be patient with yourself. Learning a new language takes time. So keep watching CNN shows and reading news articles. Do not get upset if you do not understand what they are saying right away.Be patient and persistent. Over time, you will start to improve your English fluency.
News Flash: You Can Learn English with CNN!
What are the best CNN resources for English language learners?
Now you know how and why to use CNN to improve your English fluency. But where should you begin? CNN is a large news network with many different news outlets.
Do not panic. We have gathered the essential CNN resources for English language learners. Start with these resources as you try to expand your English fluency.
CNN 10 is a short, 10-minute news show. Episodes are released every Monday through Friday as a video or podcast. Often, this show is used in classrooms as a quick overview of the day’s headlines.
CNN 10 is a great resource for language learners because it provides quick and concise news updates. You can easily find time for daily English listening practice by watching the video every morning or downloading the CNN 10 podcast to your phone.
“Anderson Cooper 360”
This is a nightly news show hosted by Anderson Cooper. Cooper investigates and reports relevant and unbiased news stories. This show mostly covers politics and often includes interviews.
Watching “Anderson Cooper 360” can be helpful for language learners. Cooper tends to talk quickly but has a clear, standard accent—so it is great if you want to practice understanding native American English speakers.
Along the way, you will learn more about America’s political system. Many people also enjoy Anderson Cooper’s subtle (not dramatic/obvious) humor, so you might enjoy the jokes provided throughout the show.
“United Shades of America”
“United Shades of America” offers a look at America’s subcultures (groups with shared interests, ideas and customs). It is a documentary series that explores the challenges faced by different groups of people across the U.S.
This show airs on Sunday evenings in the U.S. and is hosted by comedian W. Kamau Bell.
Language learners can use this show to practice their English listening skills. Also, it provides a break from watching and reading the same news over and over. This show can help you learn more about the culture of the U.S. and challenges faced by people all across America.
CNN also offers e-mail newsletters so you can stay current with the news. You can select how many and what types of articles you want to be alerted about. Newsletter topics include politics, medical news, pop culture and more.
Simply select one that looks interesting to you from the link above and enter your email to be notified of new and relevant articles.
CNN newsletters let you practice reading English with articles you find informative or interesting.
CNN offers a few different apps. You can download the CNN app to your smartphone to browse articles on the go. This is the perfect option for some daily CNN reading on your commute to work.
Also, if you allow notifications from the app, you will receive CNN news updates for some quick reading practice throughout the day.
If you own an Amazon Echo, you can use the CNN app for this device. You can ask your Echo about the latest news and you will hear an update from CNN. This is another simple way to practice listening to and understanding English as you go about your day.
If you have a Twitter account, consider following CNN. The CNN Twitter feed shows short news updates. Their tweets generally use simple English and they include pictures that add helpful context.
CNN’s Twitter also provides links to longer articles and videos.
You can sign up for notifications from CNN’s Twitter account. Like with the CNN app, this will allow you to get brief English language practice throughout the day.
If you have an Instagram account, you have another great opportunity to access CNN news. In addition to their main news account (linked above), you can also follow the CNN Travel, Style, Business or Politics Instagram accounts. That means you can learn with an account that matches your interests instead of just reading news headlines.
Like with Twitter, Instagram can be a great resource for language learners because it incorporates images with the text. You can use the image for context clues as you try to understand the English caption, which is usually quite a bit longer than a typical tweet.
So what are you waiting for? Download the CNN app, click “follow” on social media and start tuning in to some CNN shows. CNN offers many great resources to help you improve your English fluency.
Stephanie Brown is a New York City-based freelance writer. You can find her at The Adventuring Millennial.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.