Some people are addicted to news and current affairs. If you are a language learner who is also a « news junky » – who enjoys following the latest news, here’s a great idea for improving your reading skills and increasing your vocabulary.
It is true that the language of newspapers is often very complex. It is estimated that to read an English language newspaper fluently you need about 4,000 words. This can be overwhelming for some learners. And then there’s the question, with so many newspapers, where do I start? Few of us have the time in a day to search the Internet for the articles that we find interesting.
Enter Google News. When I first looked at Google News, the thing I liked about it was that it brings all the breaking news from a variety of the world’s newspapers and puts them all together in one place. But I didn’t realise that it can do a lot more.
One of the best motivations for improving reading skills is reading things we are interested in. This sounds so basic, but perhaps you remember doing reading comprehension exercises in school which you found really difficult, mainly because the subject matter was so boring! What do you like to read about?
First select the country of your choice for your Google News page. The default setting is for the US (why am I not surprised?) This will give you a standard layout like this:
You might decide that you are interested in sport, but not interested in entertainment. You can move the sports section up the page, and delete the entertainment section. You can also easily add news headlines from several different countries by selecting « Add a standard section« . Let’s say you are studying French. It is possible to add news from France, French-speaking Canada and Belgium to give you a more international perspective.
Let’s say you are particularly interested in Finance, or perhaps you are learning English vocabulary for an exam like the TOEIC, and you need to work on your financial words. Google News allows you to create your own personalised content. You select « Add a custom section« , and then « advanced options« . Let’s say the words you are revising are banking, finance, interest, loan and credit. Type in these key words, then give the section a label, « Finance » for example. Once you have saved these options you will see that a selection of Finance articles, each containing your chosen key words, is waiting for you. You can move it up or down the page to suit you.
You can change your content as often as you like. The best way to revise vocabulary is according to theme. This week it might be finance, next week transportation. You could create a new section for transportation with related key words to replace the one on finance. The point is that the best way for revising vocabulary you know, and for learning vocabulary that is new, is in the context of real everyday language. Memorising lists of words is not usually an effective way of increasing your vocabulary.
Google News is a great addition to your language learning toolbox. Do you use it already? Have you found it useful? How do you like to use Google News? Join the conversation in the comments.