Using news articles to develop vocabulary for IELTS – Part 2

Building up a good range of vocabulary on different topic areas takes time so I’ve written a series of two blog posts to look at how reading newspaper articles can really help. The first post in the series focused on why news articles are so useful in IELTS preparation and the strategies you can use to improve your vocabulary. This second post will suggest some activities you can do at home to use and remember the new language learned. It will also share a list of some useful websites to find suitable articles.

Activities to help you remember and use your new language

Noticing language and then recording it in a notebook are the first two steps of remembering and learning to use new collocations, but to ensure they become part of your lexis (or vocabulary) you need to do a bit more. Here are some activities you can try at home:

1. Predicting from the headline

Take the headline of the article and, before you read the rest of it, try and guess what it will be about. Write down some vocabulary you expect to see in the article. Then, when you come to read it, you can check if your predictions are correct.

2. Create comprehension questions

After reading the text you could create comprehension questions about it and answer them. This would be a lot more fun if you read the article with a friend and then swap questions.

3. Add sub-headings

If the text doesn’t include sub-headings already, why not create your own. This requires you to understand the main idea of each paragraph – an invaluable skill for IELTS reading!

4. Write a summary

Underline 10-15 collocations from the text that you like and then write a 100-150 word summary of the article using all of them.

5. Compare and contrast

If the article covers a big news story (i.e. something being discussed a lot in the media that day or week) find another article on the same topic and create some comparisons. You could ask yourself:

· Do both articles highlight the same main points?

· Do the writers have a similar point of view on the situation?

· Can you find a lot of the same vocabulary in both texts?

6. Translate it.

Take one or two paragraphs from the text and translate them into your first language. Then translate them back to English.

I don’t suggest you do all of these activities with every news article you read! Choose one or two per text and see which ones are the most useful to you.

Useful news websites

A handful of the websites I tend to recommend to my students as good sources of news articles are:

· The UK’s BBC News website

· The Guardian newspaper online

· E-News which provides weekly news for English language learners in three levels

· News in Levels is a similar site to E-news, providing news in three levels. It also allows you to listen to someone reading the article out loud.

· The Times in Plain English – news articles written in easy to understand English. Ideal if you’re at intermediate level or below

· The New Internationalist is a downloadable magazine featuring news from about the world. You can also find activities for English learners on their website

Tell us what you think

If you can suggest any good websites for reading news articles or ideas on how to learn new vocabulary from reading texts, please comment below.