CNN for Learning English: Everything You Need to Know
The Cable News Network (CNN), a news outlet that launched in 1980, is an incredible resource that you might overlook (not notice) on your journey to English fluency.
It offers a ton of free resources—from TV shows and news programs to articles and social media posts—that will teach you a lot about current events around the world.
Below, we have gathered the eight best CNN resources you can use to learn English, as well as some ideas on how to use them.
- The 8 Best CNN Resources for English Learners
- Why Learn English With CNN?
- How to Transform CNN Into an English Learning Tool
- And One More Thing...
The 8 Best CNN Resources for English Learners
1. CNN Mobile Apps
CNN offers a few different apps. You can download them to your smartphone to browse articles on the go (while you are traveling). This is the perfect option for some daily CNN reading on your commute to work or school.
Also, if you allow notifications from the app, you will receive CNN news updates and get some quick reading practice throughout the day.
If you own an Amazon Echo, this device can be paired with the CNN app. Just 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.
2. “CNN 10”
“CNN 10” is a short, 10-minute news show. Episodes are released as videos or podcasts. Often, this show is used in classrooms to get 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 videos every morning.
3. “United Shades of America”
“United Shades of America” takes a closer look at America’s subcultures (groups within a bigger group that share interests, ideas or customs). It is a documentary series that explores the challenges faced by different groups of people across the United States.
Like CNN 10, this show can be used to practice your English listening skills. It provides a break from watching and reading the same news over and over. It can also help you learn more about the cultures in the U.S., particularly the people who are not often talked about.
4. “Anderson Cooper 360”
This is a news show hosted by Anderson Cooper. Here, he investigates and reports relevant and unbiased (objective, not favoring any side) news stories. “Anderson Cooper 360” mostly covers politics and often includes interviews.
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 or obvious) humor, so you might enjoy the jokes provided throughout the show.
5. CNN Travel
If you want to learn travel-related English phrases, CNN’s travel section might be what you are looking for.
Not only will you pick up new vocabulary, but you can also take note of English words travel writers use to describe the places they visit.
Also, you will learn so much about cultures other than your own—and that is a big plus!
6. CNN Underscored
Do you like to read all about the latest products in English? CNN Underscored mostly covers reviews about gadgets, but you will also find articles on fashion, health and even pets.
These reviews are often divided into sections, meaning you can read one part of each article at a time. In case you are in a hurry, you can mark the sections you have not read yet and pick up where you left off (continue) later whenever you have free time.
In addition, you can pick up vocabulary related to the subjects I just mentioned above. You will also learn how to write in a way that persuades your reader to buy or not buy a certain product—a useful skill if you plan to work in sales and marketing.
7. CNN Business
CNN Business puts all of the business English vocabulary you learned in context.
For example, you can learn all about the movement of stock markets and why they go up or down. You can also read about how companies grow themselves, as well as some general articles on how you can succeed in the workplace.
8. Business English Materials: A Lesson on CNN
To be clear, businessenglishmaterials.com is not directly affiliated with (connected to) CNN like the other resources above.
But I do like how extensive (something that covers a lot) the exercises and activities related to CNN are. You have fill-in-the-blanks, roleplays, mock interviews, writing prompts and homework, among others.
If you like what you see on this resource, you can also visit their main website, Breaking News English. It features news articles that English learners of all levels can study. The articles do not only come from CNN—they also come from other English-language news outlets.
Why Learn English With CNN?
You will gain experience reading and listening to English.
CNN offers news shows and articles. That means you will be exposed to written and spoken English. You will then be able to practice both aspects of the 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. When you are knowledgeable about current events, you can have interesting things to talk about with other English speakers and learners. You also understand why certain things happen—like why the prices of the things you buy go up, for example.
You will have an advantage if you want to become a journalist
Have you ever thought about a career in English-language journalism? If so, you should be familiar with the terms and phrases used in this field.
Even if you want to be a journalist in your native language, knowing English news terms can still help—whether you are covering international news or networking (building professional connections or relationships) with English-speaking media professionals.
How to Transform CNN Into an English Learning Tool
Be an active learner.
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 understand everything. Reread articles until you start recognizing difficult words.
You can also watch several CNN video clips on FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Watch and read more than once.
Science has 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 you expand your English vocabulary.
Also, do not forget to take note of any words you do not recognize. If you cannot use context clues to understand these words, you can always pause and look up their definitions.
Be patient with yourself.
No matter what, be patient with yourself. Learning a new language takes time. 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.
So what are you waiting for? Download the CNN app, click “Follow” on social media and start tuning in to (watching or listening to) some CNN shows.
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.