The news is something we consume for hours. We can access thousands of news stories with just a click on our smartphones. It can be hard to keep up with all the news updates, especially when there is so much going on in the world.
Why not make the most of this opportunity and practice some English?
There are many reasons to read English news. It will keep you informed about current affairs. It can help you to learn vocabulary everyday on many interesting topics. You can even improve your reading speed. You’ll also learn specific grammatical structures.
Stop doing what you’re currently doing. Turn on your news notifications. These are some quick tips to help you read the English news!
- Take a look at these headlines
Headlines are a great way to learn English quickly. These headlines are usually limited in words and contain simple, strong action verbs written using the present simple. Here’s an example taken from The Mirror. You can see the use of short, snappy verbs warns or vows in their writing.
Headlines can often overlook important grammatical terms, such as articles like a, an, or the. Always capitalize the first letter. This headline is from BBC:
You can see how they have missed “of representatives” of the House of Representatives. They also wrote delivers in present tense, when it would be in the past simple and present perfect.
Headlines can often include humor or a pun, such as this one from The Guardian.
To win the crown can also be referred to as to take the title. This play at refers to Princess Diana’s success in portraying the role in the movie.
The author also employs emotive vocabulary to grab readers’ attention. Doe-eyed is someone with large, innocent eyes – similar to a doe (a female antelope).
You can learn a lot from headlines. When you scroll through your news app or walk past a newsstand, take a moment to try and understand the message.
- Pay attention to passive Tenses
Sometimes, headlines and main body news articles use passive voices. Why? Because it makes the subject of the story the central focus.
The active voice tells what happens. The passive voice (be+ participle), tells us what happened, but sometimes hides who. Headlines can be a bit different because they use the passive voice but not and a conjugation to the Be verb.
These two sentences are comparable:
- At a UK nuclear power station, police arrested protestors. (active)
- Protesters were arrested at a UK nuclear plant. (passive)
The police are the main focus in the first sentence, while the protesters are the main focus in the second. This example makes it obvious that the police made the arrests. Therefore, the headline should not include them.
Journalists may use the passive voice for:
- It is clear who did the act. For example, “Scientists are awarded Nobel Prize in extravagant ceremonies.” It is obvious that the Nobel Prize Committee awarded the prize.
- Sometimes, it is not clear who did the act. For example, “World’s largest stolen diamond from museum.”
- Sometimes, it’s because the action or event was more important than those who made it possible. “Life discovered at Mars”.
- Select news stories that are of interest to you
You can choose to read the fashion and beauty section, the anguish aunt, or the sports section. It’s not worth reading something that you find boring. You can scan through the headlines until one grabs your attention. Read the article and, if it is boring, go on to the next one.
Another tip is to look for stories that you are familiar with in your native language. This will make it easier to understand the story and allow you to fill in any gaps if you come across new words.
The Local, El Pais, and Catalonia Today all provide English-language news today. You can read them over your morning cup of coffee in your native language. Next, read them again in English while you commute to work.
- Learn new vocabulary
You’ll discover many new words and expressions when you read English news. You should always have a pen and paper with you to record what you’ve learned.
You can also keep a note in the notes section of your phone. You can create categories to group your news in vocabulary sets like financial news or sports. gossip and political. To memorise each word, practice saying it five times loud.
- Get the news you need at the right level
Choose news that is easy to understand. The Guardian is a favorite of many, but it can be difficult for some – even native speakers.
If you have been studying English for a while, only try to read newspapers such as The Guardian and BBC News. If you don’t have any English language skills, then start with news sources that are specifically for English learners.
The News at Levels, E News are two good examples. Both grade the language according to different levels of difficulty. They highlight keywords that you might find helpful. E-News also offers an audio option that allows you to practice listening skills while reading.
Other news sources that are fun for language learners include The Times, Breaking News English, and BBC Lingohack.
This video by Lingohack focuses on how plastic can be made into sportswear. The transcript can be downloaded from their website. You can also listen while you read.