How News Articles Can Help ESL Students Learn


News articles can be powerful learning tools for your ESL students.

Unlike the usual ESL reading comprehension activities, news resources can engage students on an immediate level. They’re studying language by learning about what’s going on in the world, a topic that they may already be interested in.

Start each ESL lesson with reading and recounting of English news articles as a warm-up activityand you will be surprised to see the quick progress of your class. You can either bring physical newspapers to the ESL classroom or use online resources.

In this blog post, we are going to focus on online resources where you can find appropriate ESL news articles for your students.

Before you start scouring the web for news for English learners, let’s discuss the features of a perfect ESL article. They are as follows:

  1. The article should use correct grammar.
  2. The article should not contain offensive vocabulary.
  3. The ESL article should be published on a trusted resource.
  4. The article should be interesting both for you and the learners.
  5. The article should not contain any culture-related controversies.
  6. The ESL article should be appropriate for the age of your students.
  7. The article should correspond with the knowledge level of your students.
  8. The article should meet the learning goals of your students, e.g. either only reading comprehension or as a speaking activity.

Now let’s find out which online resources are a goldmine for perfect articles for English learners.

  1. Time for Kids – This resource contains news for the youngest learners. Therefore, its articles are easier to understand as compared with traditional news resources for ESL students. It is an online publication on a weekly basis with the key goal of building confidence and enthusiasm for reading among students. The learners can choose from a range of reading topics, such as entertainment, sports, health, science, and world. Some articles are also made in a video format, which will help your students enhance their listening comprehension as well. The website also has a teacher’s page with worksheets that you can use to educate your students on culture, geography, and traditional holidays of English speaking countries.
  2. The New York Times Learning Blog This website offers short “articles of the day” with questions at the end of each article to capture the attention of your students. The resource works well for ESL news articles because it focuses on topics that intrigue children, like technology and the future. Other learning blog activities for students are writing prompts, quizzes and puzzles, multimedia, and contests. The website also offers lesson plans for teachers.
  3. CNN 10, former CNN Student News This is a news resource just for students, which shares the breaking and popular news in ways that ESL students can relate and understand. The website is aimed at intermediate and advanced English speakers and is targeting native English high school students. However, you can refer to this as a teaching resource from time to time with your advanced ESL students. It is a reputable resource that sticks to current events and professionally presents the information. The website covers world, sports, technology, entertainment, sports, style, and travel news topics in the form of articles and videos that work well for ESL news activities. 
  4. Smithsonian Tween Tribune – This website was created by the Smithsonian Institute. Its most remarkable feature is that all articles are written by young adults under the guidance of teachers and professional journalists around the world. The website contains categories for different grades, from 4 to 12. As in The New York Times Learning Blog, each article contains thought-provoking questions in the end. For example, after the article “Insects interacting with plants play mighty roles on Earth for millennia” there’s a question “Why are insects important to our planet?” It’s easy to see why topics like these make excellent ESL articles. 
  5. Entrepreneur Online Magazine – You can use this magazine to discuss articles with your adult ESL students whose levels are intermediate, upper intermediate, or advanced. This resource is especially helpful if some of your students are business-oriented. The Entrepreneur Online Magazine is full of excellent articles about startups, technology, business leadership, psychology, and philosophy. There are no questions after article titles but you can prepare them yourself if you’re using them as ESL articles for learning.
  6. News in Levels The website contains world news for English language learners. Each ESL article on this website has three versions: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. The articles are also accompanied with videos. You can choose the appropriate article level depending on the knowledge and skills of your students and discuss the ESL news articles afterwards.

Whether you’re interested in becoming a teacher or you already teach English to kids, we hope that now you are armed with useful resources and ready to spark the interest of your students with exciting ESL articles.