To continue on the topic of improving reading skills by reading articles, I’d like to share some resources I use for myself and my students. And let’s say that by articles I mean longer reads written by professional journalists, and not something on social media where shorter and simpler posts are favoured.
It may not be very convenient to go from one website to another in search of a good post. So, instead, my advice is to subscribe to a newsletter from the websites you like. Those newsletters often come with a short editorial text that focuses on the most important thing and sometimes with one-sentence (or longer) summaries with the main idea of the articles shared. So a bit of quality reading is guaranteed even if you only look through the newsletter.
My choice falls on (all of them free or provide a number of free articles per month, e.g. 4 for Wired):
The BBC, but not the news (unless you really want to). There are wonderful sections called Worklife, Travel, Future and Culture (and REEL with short educational videos). This is the go-to resource if we decide to read something together with my students. I really like the language of the articles. With some help (a teacher or built-in translators in the browser), it’s quite accessible to Intermediate students. The topics are original and explored quite in-depth (for an article, I mean). And you can find lots of links to something that supports the arguments of the author, shoud you choose to dig deeper into the topic. Now I can’t open the website from my computer, but it works fine on the phone (with a VPN). Then I copy the text of the article to Google docs (Select all => Copy => Paste) and use it from there. Lifehack =)
The Conversation. It’s “a unique collaboration between academics and journalists that in a decade has become the world’s leading publisher of research-based news and analysis” (quote from the website). The language may be a bit more dry and academic compared to the BBC, though. But I guess that’s the general tone of the publisher, the more objective and the less entertaining one (that’s my impression).
What’s interesting is that there are multiple editions for different regions (check the top-left corner), including Canada and France (in French) and Spain (in Spanish). If you check editions for a particular country, the topics will be COVID-19, Arts + Culture, Business + Economy, Cities, Education, Environment, Health, Politics + Society, Science + Technology, Podcasts, and Insights. Really, a big choice. And objective exploration of those topics and many facts, as far as I understand.
Big Think. The website is for thinkers, I guess, but not philosophers (the ideas are not that complicated, I mean). It’s “a collection of interviews, presentations, and round table discussions with experts from a wide range of fields” (Wiki). The topics include Neuropsych, Thinking, Leadership, Smart Skills, High Culture, The Past, The Present, The Future, Life, Health, and Hard Science. So it’s more tech / business / skills oriented. And you can read about the Big Questions:
- Will true AI turn against us?
- Do we have free will?
- Why are there conspiracy theories?
- Is religion helping or hurting us?
- Are we alone in the universe?
- Should we trust science?
I find all this rather entertaining and thought-provoking. The website also has a collection of videos on the same topics.
Wired. That’s pretty tech with a whole section dedicated to Gear. The other sections include Business, Culture, Ideas, Science, and Security. The online magazine “focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics” (Wiki). I don’t read it much, but I get the impression that that style is more informal than in The Conversation. I’m planning to share one article from Wired with you – it’s packed with some excellent use of vocab. It is both useful for everyday life and interesting in terms of word combinations. Look out for it this week!
Human Progress. That’s an interesting one. It’s dedicated to showing how much progress we’ve made as humanity in improving our well-being. So the mission of the organisation is to provide “empirical data from reliable sources that look at worldwide long-term trends”. As they say, “we hope that this website leads to a greater appreciation of the improving state of the world and stimulates an intelligent debate on the drivers of human progress”. The list of sections is too long to copy it here, but the ones that caught my eye are Education and Literacy, Global Competitiveness, Pessimist’s Archive and Varieties of Democracies.
If I’m being very honest, I only sometimes look through their newsletters and never read the articles in full. But I find this idea, to focus on the positive and to provide data for it, fascinating, and I do hope to dig deeper into that data one day.
That’s it from me. And what do you read? Please share your favourites in the comments! There must be some other jewels on the net that I don’t know about and the others will benefit from =)