Building English skills: Newspapers

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Reading is an excellent way to extend your vocabulary and  improve your English language skills.  Reading novels, short stories, magazines and newspaper articles is an enjoyable way to improve your general English.

Newspaper reading skills

Reading newspapers is an excellent way to gain current, general English language and vocabulary. Here are some suggestions for reading more effectively. You could practice the strategies as you read newspapers and then apply the skills to your study reading.

Consider whether previewing an article before you read it  helps you to gain a better understanding of  information. Try noticing what information is conveyed in the layout and pictures.. The simulated article below is entitled, Economic outlook strong, and demonstrates how information can be communicated quickly and effectively through a descriptive headline and use of a bar graph to illustrate data.

How to preview an article

reading newspaper articles

Previewing tips

  1. First read the headline to get some idea about the type of article - news story, book review etc.
  2. Look at the picture
  3. Read the caption (the text under the picture). This gives you some information about the article and further prepares you to understand the information.
  4. Try to guess what you are likely to read in the article from what you have learned from the headline, picture and caption and from what you may already know about the topic.

Effective reading

The key to efficient reading is to know your purpose for reading. Are you just looking for specific information? Are you reading to get a general idea about a topic? Do you want to have a deep understanding of what you read? When you know your purpose for reading, you can apply specific skills such as skim reading, scanning or reading in detail.

After previewing the article as described above, follow the steps for efficient reading.

  • Read the first paragraph carefully to gain a general idea of what the article is about.
  • Next, skim read the article (read very quickly without using a dictionary).
  • Guess the meaning of words you do not know by gaining information from other words in the sentence that you do know.
  • Read the conclusion carefully.

If you follow the above steps, you will find that you will be able to read more quickly and understand most of the article.

If you wish to gain a deeper level reading of the article, you could read the article again slowly and in more detail, taking time to look up words in your dictionary if you need to.

If you are looking for specific information, you do not need to read the whole article. You can scan the article to locate the key words for the topic or information you are interested in. You are scanning for information when you look up somebody's telephone number in the telephone book.

Reading activities based on newspaper articles

Improve your reading comprehension through the Hong Kong Virtual Language Centre. The site provides reading exercises based on newspaper articles form the South China Morning Post.

Register with the Breaking News English site for English language activities formed around information from daily news articles

Newspapers online

Can you think of ways to discuss current news issues to start conversations with people?

The daily newspapers report the news but they also provide authentic access to language and culture of English in Australia.