Online Reading: Match Your Level and Interests

The Internet has wonderful resources for all types of online reading. These suggestions can help you find reading that isn't too hard.

However, if you're interested in an article with difficult English, don't forget all the tools to help you read it-- online dictionaries and even translators.

Try it in English, first (and again afterwards), even if you need to use a translation app. Make it a game to see how much you can understand before you get it translated!

Online Reading for Beginners or Intermediates 

girl with a red sweater smiling as she reads her computer screenOnline reading-- a world of information

These websites have a various topics, but all are written in fairly simple English. Many also have audio recordings, (They will open in a new window so you won't lose your place here.)

  • Newsela has a large variety of interesting news articles written at several levels. Choose the level that is best for you, from the easiest to the original article (with the most detail.). The site requires signing up, but then you have access to so many excellent news (& American history) articles.
  • Several other news sites for English learners also offer several reading levels, (and sometimes audio as well). There's  list near the end of Understanding the News in English.
  • CLILstore (not a store, but a source of language stories and articles-- many with videos) has material at several levels, from A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced.) They also provide one-click translation. 

Be sure to put 'English' in the search bar-- they have a huge number of selections in many languages.  Many also have comprehension exercises, so you can check how well you understood what you read.

  • The British Council magazine has short articles with audio (and usually comprehension practice) on many different topics. It's for Intermediates and up.
  • ESL mini-readings about daily life lead to discussion questions and ideas for follow-up research online. You can listen to many of them as you read. Some have links to quizzes, vocabulary, or pronunciation practice as well.
  • English Online has many interesting articles on history, geography, and science simplified for English learners. Each article has a vocabulary list at the end. Presently there are a few hundred topics.
  • Kid’s health with easy readings (and audio recordings) about all kinds of health issues. Articles are also available in Spanish.

Audio recordings let you listen while you read. Their advantage is that you not only hear pronunciation of the words, but you get the message two ways, with both eyes and ears. (This will also help you recognize the words you learn when you hear them again in a lecture or in conversation.)

For More Advanced ESL Online Reading

If your English level is high intermediate or advanced, you have even more online reading options. Try English-language journals in your professional field, or magazines on subjects that interest you.

Are you fascinated by fashion or cooking, politics, biology research, or science fiction? You could subscribe to a magazine in any of these fields, or find them in a public library, or read articles online.

  • (the museum's online magazine) has fascinating articles on science, American (& world) history, and culture. Some are quite long, but they also have many short news updates. 

Some excellent websites with more advanced readings are

  • Many, which has the complete text of many classic books, short stories, and other readings, some with audio.
  • Extraordinary people has long, inspiring true stories about people who have fought for justice and the environment and found creative ways to meet unmet needs. Scroll down the linked page to find a list of the stories, with a quick summary of what each person did and why it matters.
  • This I Believe has short statements (essays & audio) from many famous and many ordinary people about what each feels is most important in life. So many of these are worth reading!

If you don’t know where to start, go to “explore” and try the 1950s essays by Albert Einstein, Roger Hammerstein, and Jackie Robinson. (Click on the picture to find the essay along with the audio recording.)

In “Featured Essays” try “My Parents as Friends,” or “Here Comes (the Real) Santa Claus.” In “Special Features,” you might try “Recovering the Hope of Children” (in “Hope for the Future”) or “There is Such a Thing as Truth” (in “A Roadmap for Life.”

Finding Information Online in English

The Internet is also a great place to find information in your specific areas of interest, or for your personal, business, or professional needs.

It is worth checking out the English-language sites in those areas, too.

Some may be too difficult for you right now, but others will be written in a simple style. Some will even have a translation button. (You can also copy and paste brief sections you want translated into Google Translator yourself.) It’s far from perfect, but it can give you an idea of the meaning of parts you don’t understand.)

In addition, you can order English books online, or learn about them online and see if they are available at a library.

For more information on books for free reading in English, see Easy Reading: Books for ESL Beginners and Finding English Reading Materials.

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