5 Tips for Reading the News in English

Whether you’re just starting to learn English or have been studying for years, reading news articles can be a great way to improve your English skills.

However, news stories are often filled with difficult vocabulary, complex sentence structures, and background context that is assumed but not fully explained.

This can make following along quite challenging if your English level isn’t very advanced yet.

Never fear, I’m here to share five helpful tips that will make reading English news much more enjoyable and productive for learners at any level.

Let’s dive in!

Tip #1: Start With Simpler News Sources

When you’re first starting out reading news in English, it’s best to begin with sources that use more straightforward language.

Look for news outlets aimed at younger audiences or English learners.

Some great options to start with include:

Student News Daily – This site rewrites current event articles at different reading levels, which is perfect for beginners.

News in Levels – Offers the same news story rewritten at 3 different levels of complexity.

BreakingNewsEnglish – Takes major news stories and rewrites them simply, while also including useful vocabulary guidance.

Beginning with easier sources allows your brain to get used to processing the unique vocabulary and writing style of news without being overwhelmed.

As your skills improve, you can transition to more advanced native news sources.

Tip #2: Focus On The Headline and Opening Paragraphs First

For any complex news article, the headline and opening 1-2 paragraphs are the most important parts.

They provide the key information – who, what, where, when, why, and how – about the story in a concise way.

When you first start reading an article, spend extra time making sure you fully understand the headline and opening section.

If there are any words or phrases you don’t know, look them up. This upfront effort will give you crucial context to comprehend the rest of the article easier.

Sometimes I’ll read just the headline and first few paragraphs first, then go back and read the whole article once I’ve grasped the main idea.

Don’t be afraid to re-read these opening sections multiple times until they really click.

Tip #3: Embrace Images, Videos and Multimedia

Most online news these days includes images, videos, graphics and other multimedia elements along with the text content.

When you’re reading in English, make sure to pay close attention to these supporting multimedia components as they can provide helpful context clues.

For example, if there’s a photograph included study it carefully and think about how it relates to the written portion you just read.

The image may clarify confusing points or illustrate an important concept.

The same goes for videos, charts, maps and other visual aids included with the article.

Use them as an opportunity to hear another explanation of the information or get a different representation that could solidify your understanding.

Don’t just skim past these multimedia sections.

Lean on them as valuable learning tools when reading news articles in English.

Tip #4: Use Online Reading Tools and Extensions

Thanks to technology, there are numerous reading tools and browser extensions that can make digesting articles easier for English learners.

Here are some incredibly useful ones to look into:

Text-to-Speech Extensions (Like Mobility Reader) – Hear the article read aloud for pronunciation practice.

Online Dictionaries (Like LanguageTool) – Double-click any word for an instant definition and translation.

Translation Extensions (Like Immersive Translate) – Quickly translate entire sentences or paragraphs into your native language.

These tools can turn any article into an interactive reading experience to build your English comprehension.

You can hover over or click unfamiliar words to reveal translations, hear proper pronunciation, and even get grammar notes.

Most of these tools are free to install on your browser, so take advantage of their powers!

With instant access to definitions and translations, reading news goes from overwhelming to enriching for learners.

Tip #5: Find a Reading Partner or Group

Understanding news articles in English becomes much easier when you have someone to discuss them with.

Find a language partner or join a reading group for extra accountability and opportunity to clear up confusions.

With a partner, you can take turns reading sections out loud to practice speaking and pronunciation skills.

Whenever one of you gets stuck on a phrase or paragraph meaning, you can pause and hash it out together.

A group setting provides even more brainpower to resolve uncertainties.

Usually there is at least one member who can explain a tricky section more clearly, or you can all collaboratively research it.

Plus, having a partner or group will keep you motivated to read the news consistently, rather than falling out of the habit.

Set a goal to read one article per week and discuss it with your partner or group members.

And before you know it, your confidence in reading even the most complex English news stories will skyrocket. Because you’re doing it together.

The Takeaway

Reading the news is an excellent way for English learners to build vocabulary, practice comprehension skills, and stay up-to-date on important world events.

But news articles are notoriously difficult with their dense writing styles and assumption of prior knowledge on the topics.

By starting simple, focusing on key portions, using visual aids, installing reading tools, and studying with partners, learners can overcome these hurdles.

Take it step-by-step, be patient, and utilize the tips outlined here.

With regular practice, those once impenetrable English news stories will soon become an enriching, enjoyable reading experience for you.

An experience that continuously expands your language abilities and global awareness.

So, what are you waiting for?

Install those reading extensions, find a news outlet at your level, maybe even recruit a study buddy.

Then dive in and start reading the news like a pro in no time!


Check out these awesome collocation books I recommend:

English Collocations in Use Intermediate Book with Answers

Oxford Collocation Dictionary

Advanced English Collocations & Phrases in Dialogues


Collocations For Eloquent Communication

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