5 Alternative Sources of Reading Material for Advanced Learners

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One way to enrich your vocabulary and develop your toolkit of expressions to use when expressing your thoughts in a foreign language is through engaging written and spoken material by native speakers, for native speakers of the language. Fortunately for non-native speaker learners of English, there is a myriad of sources available online at no cost. The challenge for English learners is how to parse through the vast volume of material which will be both interesting and useful as a learning tool.

While there are the usual suspects such as CNN, YouTube, and the New York times, in this article we offer 5 alternative sources of material over a range of subject matters and styles which will serve English language learners in their quest to become more proficient.


What it is
Medium is an online publishing platform, which has a mixture of articles written by both amateur and professional people and publications. It covers a wide range of business, technical, and general interest topics, reflecting the passions of its contributing authors. It was originally created as a way for writers to go beyond the 140 character list of Twitter. It is commonly regarded as a blog host, allowing independent writers to share their information and perspectives with a wide audience.

How it is useful
Because postings on Medium can be “upvoted” (similar to being “liked” on Facebook) and shared with others within the platform, the most compelling content floats to the top, as judged by the base of readers. The result is a constantly refreshed collection of articles which are proven to be engaging. It is possible to either rely on the “Popular” selection on the home page, dig into the curated sections such as Technology, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship, or do deep dive into a topic of choice using the search function.


What it is
TED itself is well known as a nonprofit organization founded as early as 1984 as a platform to spread excellent ideas, usually in the form of impactful presentations delivered before a live group and captured on camera for a broader audience to experience later. Originally built around the core subjects of Technology (T), Entertainment (E), and Design (D), the presentations now cover almost all topics ranging from global issues to science and business. TED talks have been delivered in more than 110 languages.

TEDx are independent TED-like events which can be organized by any local organization and have been produced in regions and cities around the world. Having the goal to spark conversation, connection, and community, these events capture the most compelling local issues which go beyond the standard fare found in the mainstream global media.

How it is useful
With over 100,000 presentations video recorded and made available online, there is a enough material for anyone to stay interested for a lifetime. The presentation format and style, while unique to each presenter, follows a set of standards set forth by the TED organization to ensure consistency and quality. For learners of English, these presentations are an excellent source of listening practice and vocabulary building, as well as being a window into the important topics of our time.


What it is
Quora is essentially a Q&A (question and answer) site where burning questions are asked and then answered by its large community of users. Readers have the ability to edit questions and proposing edits to the answers which have already been submitted by other users. The subject matter ranges from the serious issues of our modern times to issues perhaps best discussed at the pub. Using the stream of posts on the top page or the search function, you are bound to find an article of interest that will be a contrast to the generic fare found on the mainstream news sites.

How is it useful
Because the written responses, and questions themselves, cover rather offbeat issues (“Do people trust buying fine jewelry online” for example), Quora is a rich source of compelling reading and instant discussion starters. Most posts are less than 500 words, which makes them manageable for a deep dive even by lower proficiency English learners.


What it is
John Mauldin, the founder of Mauldin Economics, runs a set of businesses aimed at investors and writes profusely about the important economic and sociopolitical issues of our times which will effect our livelihood from now into the future. Widely known and well respected in the business community, he counts among his personal friends many CEOs and government officials who come to him for advice. The free content on his website goes deeply into issues related to the economy and how the markets are impacted by the various influences at play.

How it is useful
Far more in depth than sites such as CNN, Mauldin Economics is a great source of challenging and thought provoking material for the most advanced learners who are looking to broaden their knowledge of global affairs while also expanding their command of English. Learners in the intermediate range who have an interest in these topics could focus on the first paragraphs of the articles published here, aiming at understanding the gist and picking up new vocabulary in the process.


What it is
The English version of the Al Jazeera website is an extension of the Al Jazeera Media Network, which is headquartered in Doha, Qatar. The first news English language news channel to be headquartered in the Middle East, it provides coverage of news features and analysis, current affairs, business, technology, sports, and documentaries. While largely unknown in the United States, it reaches a potential audience of over a billion English speakers who do not share an Anglo-American point of view.

How it is useful
In our lineup of recommendations, Al Jazeera most closely follows the mold of the online news organization. The depth and quality of its coverage is well recognized globally, in particular for affairs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Yet by breaking out of the mold set by the dominating Western news organizations, Al Jazeera presents a though provoking perspective which contracts what many advanced English learners are exposed to.

The beauty of the internet for language learners is that you can have unlimited access, at no cost, to content which matches precisely your interests, objectives, and current proficiency level. However, sifting through all that is available to find the perfect piece to use for your study can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. We hope this article has given you some solid ideas of where to get started.

Do you have your own favorite source of content? Let us know in the comments section!

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