Learn English reading news, it is more than beneficial, it is necessary. It’s not enough to wake up early in the morning, have a nice cup of coffee and think your English is improving without understanding the daily happenings in the most important English-Speaking countries around the world.
It takes very little time from your day to skim through a few pages on the best online news sites. At the same time that you learn English with Music, Movies, and T.V. shows, English Slang and software, you have to make sure you can relate to the important events around the world.
Why learn English reading the news?
News articles are written in what is called formal English: A standard format that allows for universal understanding of the written form and has standard expressions that come around the literary, business or marketing world, getting people used to certain terms, technicisms and manners of speech. These terms and vocabulary are so often seen in literature that a clear definition of what is formal and informal English can be easily distinguished.
The word “News” is the plural of “New”, indicating some new event, happening or ocurrence. When we want to know the news, we want the most recent and up to date information of importance: political scandals, sports events, fashion, film industry, science, etc. News give us context to link the meaning of language to real-life events that produce an immediate attention and the focus of our mind and emotions. Reading good news can also affect our brains during sad or cloudy days.
Tips to learn English reading online news:
- Join online newspapers like The Skim, who provide short summaries delivered to your mailbox, giving you in simple English, the short version of news events. If you have an advanced level of English, you might want to read the Wallstreet Journal, or watch videos on CBS Try the newspaper that seems more friendly to you not only in interface but also in the way they deliver their content. I’m particularly fond of the BBC webiste. It has a friendly interface, it is a great source for videos and has amazing and well defined news sections. The BBC also offers a section called Words in the News for British English fans. People reading the news list important words and then read a story containing these words. Many of these words can be tough, but practice will get you through. The BBC also has a great phonetics section called the Sounds of English, containing a great array of videos and downloadable material for practicing pronunciation.
Voice of America has two levels for English-learners on its news website. You can listen to English podcasts and view videos. This channel includes subtitles (captions or words at the bottom of the screen) and the commentators speak slowly and very clearly, at a third slower than a regular podcast or news video. This is a great start for learners to take things at their own rythm, and since they can pause whenever they want, it makes for great analysis of words and phrases.
High quality news for bulding precision.
There are many sites with poor writing (grammar, syntax, content, style) that we want to avoid. This is why we should stick to high quality news sites that provide clear crisp writing and a great journalistic style to go along with it. The sentences should be short and informative, making use of the simple subject-verb-object formula. USA Today has many English-learner followers because of its clear and well written English articles.
Multicultural contribution is key to the writing of credible and sound (substantial, solid) news. For this reason the Guardian’s Staff is great at delivering accurate, unbiased (impartial) and heartfelt news that blend together the sense of community and international collaboration of dedicated reporters.
Learn English reading what you truly like and enjoy.
If politics or economics isn’t your thing, you might want to look for those news that truly capture your attention. If you’re into MAA (mixed martial arts) you might take a look at sites like sherdog.com. This is a great site for combat sports updates. But be warned that many sports commentators speak so fast that their commentaries end up being difficult to understand, and adding to this the constant yelling and shouting due to their emotional interaction with the sport itself.
The Midfield Dynamo Football Site breaks their news into top 10s; this is great for receiving summaries of valuable information in an easier to understand English without the emotional contribution of live commentators. Real Clear Sports pulls lists from several sites to create easy to view categories. You can find your most interesting topics categorized by best to last and find things your not so interested in ranging from bad to worst.
Kids can also benefit from Kids news sites such as htekidsnews.com where information is a filtered source of daily news according to their level. NBC Learn is another great site for kids that helps them learn about what’s happening around the world. Kids Discover and National Geographic Kids are also available for travel buffs.
Instyle Magazine is great for stept by step how-to guides. If you like following instructions on fashion, or be told what kind of shoes to wear for your upcoming marathon, Instyle Magazine organises how-to stories by topics of interest. It has great how-to story videos and its interface is self-explanatory.
If you’re into jogging and fitness, runnersworld gives you tons of how-to stories, from picking the right shoes for your daily jogging, for casual walking, and if you’re the track sports star, the right shoes for your intensive activity. It has how-to training videos, nutrition tips and really helpful and entertaining top 10s.
Write your own news:
One of my favorite activities is to write the news of important events within my country. I can either look into my country’s newspapers and do a translation, but will always compare the style with a good English-written newspaper for clarity and declarative sentences. Have a dictionary at hand for those difficult words. I would even recommend doing a full news article with good photography included. Do something simple like going to a museum and reporting on it. Take interesting pictures for your headlines; write short articles on particulars and points of interest regarding the place or event. Try using journalistic techniques of your favorite news papers and compare your work to theirs. Pretending to be a reporter is a lot of fun, and great learning can be gained.
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Learning English With Movies
The most fun way to learn English without a doubt is through movies. Many people take this simply activity for granted, simply because they don’t know how to activate captions or because they are too afraid of technology.
Does it really work?
It really does! And it does more for your learning than many other things that are considered essential. Why? Well, because you can learn from those little cultural aspects: slang, proverbs, idioms and phrasal verbs that simple learning in your own country won’t teach you. Movies are full of Urban language and terms that will help you during your travels and will get you thinking on how the language is used for colloquial expressions.
Reasons why learning English through movies really works.
- You will listen to real English as it is used everyday, not formal, rigid and specific English. During your ESL class what you usually reply to your teacher when asking “How are you” is a very robotic “Fine thank you, and you?” During a movie you will be able to compare replies to this basic question and will get a variety such as: “I’m good,” “not so bad,” “could be better” etc.
You will acquaint yourself to the natural flow of speech in movies and realize that you don’t have to be so rigid yourself.
- Learning in context means that you will associate language with happenings and real stituations. Sometimes when we read textbooks we have trouble linking the words to meaningful events. In movies this content is immediately associated to the action displayed in the film.
At school we usually study vocabulary lists and have trouble remembering them since they stand devoid of content; this is because there is no immediate action to attach them to.
Say that you learn the new word “eager”, teacher tells you what it means with a funny performance and body language, you manage to at least “know” it then and there. But after a while you forget; the only thing that made you remember the word was a moment’s necessity and the funny performance of your well-intentioned teacher. Now, while that was forgettable, it is not the same with films, since the whole progression of a scene is tied to the words used to reference specific things. Say the main characters tells a secondary character: “tomorrow’s the race, aren’t you excited?” the secondary character replies, “I’m eager!” You immediately associate this reply to the facial expression of the character and the whole progressive sequence of the film, it is magic!
- Association of past, present and future events In film work better than a tenses class.
One of the problems with practicing tenses in an English class is that the verbs in past tense have no story or progression to be attached to. This is not the case when watching a movie, because you can start thinking on verbs to talk about past events during the film. If you engage in a review, you will have a better idea of how to place verbs in the different tenses, and the powerful images the film instills in your head will make the machanics of verb attachment seamless and natural.
- The why and the how. We know why we say things and the reasons behind our expressions. Yet living in a different non-English-Speaking country will not acquaint us very much with the “how”. Imagine your first day in Las Vegas, you are lucky enough to win one million dollars. You can’t hold your emotion and yell “I’m glad!!!” People look at you as if you were from another planet and wonder why you’re saying you’re glad and not saying “I can’t believe it!” or “I’m gonna die!” or maybe some not very refined language. Movies are great in showing the how to every why and get us in tune with our expressions.
- Choose a movie you really want to see or that you liked in the past. This will at least guarantee you are entertained and not frustrated with your task of understanding the captions. In addition, familiarity and expectation for a film will help you relate language.
- Choose movies according to your English level. Be gradual in your learning process and don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t feel silly when you find yourself watching cartoons. Don’t go way over your head with some Shakespeare or the Odyssey.
- Take notes and write down difficult words or expressions and make a vocabulary bank. Here’s a snapshot of how I make my own vocabulary banks:
- Have a dictionary at hand. Though many of the words or common expressions you learn will find their way easily into your head, it is always a good idea to have a dictionary at hand. Learn some synonyms and antonyms for a better grasp of the words.
- Remember, don’t be too hard on yourself. You might miss many words or fail to understand many of the expressions you hear. But hey! Practice makes the master, right? So just focus on those words you can remember and try to use them even in monologue, speaking to yourself and repeating them during situations where you would typically use the expression in your original language.
. Check up on your words, include them in day to day conversations or use the monologue technique.
. Try without subtitles. I know it might sound crazy, but the best way to test yourself and your hearing ability is to play the movies you have seen subtitled, without them. This will encourage you to focus, it will make you happy to recognize words and know how they are spelled.
. I have selected a wonderful series from the BBC England for you to watch. It is full of humor, basic English and a great and easy progression into the language. I will leave the link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k89GF-i_Eyg&list=PLdYSWqTrWP2jyqWIdjsATbrb11uN_BMrF