Let’s imagine you have to pick only one English learning and improving material to take with you to a remote island. What would it be? An English grammar book? A fiction book in English? An English workbook? Never mind them all! What you need is a bunch of newspapers and your English will come along nicely!
The reason why I value newspapers so highly – especially tabloids – is because their purpose is to provide normal, everyday people with easy-to-digest news and English used in them is very close to the spoken language heard on the street, at work, on TV and radio. You can read tabloids very easily and in the process you’ll acquire the same means of expression used in interpersonal communication.
While some academics might hold to a view that spoken English has low standards because of abundance of phrasal verbs and informal expressions, my experience tells me tabloid language will make your communication with other English speakers so much easier. After all, what kind of conversations are you involved on a regular basis – normal, everyday chatting or highly intellectual, academically inspired discussions?
I think that without a shadow of a doubt the former kind of communication is by far more necessary for the average foreign English speaker, so let’s look at the benefits of reading English newspapers and tabloids in a bigger detail. Also, you’ll find out how just by scanning tabloid headlines you can stay up-to-date with current affairs and offer your opinion on different topics when having a chat with your friends at a launch table!
Mark any expressions and word combinations
worth memorizing with a highlighter pen!
Whether you have a habit of grabbing the morning paper on the way to work and having a read on the bus or train, or you just occasionally read newspapers left behind on a canteen table, there’s no excuse for you not to have a pen or a highlighter on you!
When you come across phrases and expressions you haven’t heard before but you feel they’re worth memorizing, just highlight or underline them.
If you’re wondering HOW to determine if a certain expression is worth memorizing, please read another article of mine called How to Decide What New English Words to Learn
Next thing – don’t throw the newspaper away! Have it with you for the evening and next morning so that you can look up those highlighted expressions. Every time you do so, please make a point to speak them out loud and also put them in a couple of different sentences so that you add those expressions to your active English vocabulary!
IMPORTANT! Always learn new vocabulary in context – don’t highlight separate words and don’t translate them into your native language
But if you’re wandering why I insist you should speak them out loud – remember that your goal is to become capable of using those newly acquired phrases and expressions in your conversations! If you only read them, there’s less chance you’ll be able to do so because your mouth needs to be trained in order to speak fluently.
So it’s very important you combine the two – newspaper reading and speaking – for the biggest benefit to your spoken English improvement!
Use tabloid topics as conversation starters
with other English speakers!
They don’t write boring news in tabloids, full stop. Yes, some people will find certain topics more interesting than others, but generally speaking, you just can’t get it wrong if you strike up a conversation with someone touching on a subject mentioned in a tabloid newspaper.
Shocking crime stories, celebrity gossip, latest news in politics and showbiz updates – that’s what tabloid journalism is all about, and the very same topics dominate ordinary people’s conversations. If you want to blend within the society you live in – and I’m sure you do! – you’ll make it so much easier for yourself to integrate if you come across as a friendly person who knows just the right things to say at the right moments.
It’s especially relevant for you if you’re just starting out in an English speaking country, but even if you’ve been around English speakers for a good while, you may often find yourself being the quiet person sitting in the corner and not saying much.
So if you’re anything serious about your English fluency improvement, you’ve just got to speak, and finding inspiration in tabloid newspapers might just make all the difference for you when it comes to being able to participate in daily conversations and comment on things people find important.
And bear in mind, tabloid English is by no means some vulgar gibberish; I’d rather look at it this way – it is language for the people as opposed to a language used in very specific industries.
Here’s an excerpt from The Irish Sun, January 3, 2012: “Another year but already the gloom is deepening. 2012 started with citizens being hit with the household charge, VAT hikes and increased transport fares.”
Would you rather read the same news written in a very formal language – “We’ve just entered the New Year but already the effect of crisis is tangible. 2012 started with citizens facing the new household levy, VAT increase and rising commuting costs.” ?
Well, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you just have to know that in daily conversations the verb “to hit” can be used in that particular context, and it’s not something you’ll come across in an English textbook!
Yes, it’s only beneficial to your overall spoken English level if you can say things like “commuting costs are on the rise”. Yet it’s equally important to be able to speak using simple language, and frankly speaking there are occasions when foreign English speakers are overdoing their speech in terms of grammar constructs and vocabulary because we don’t want to look bad in front of others.
“Transport fares are going up” is totally fine to say, it’s not too simple, and that’s exactly how English speaking people speak in normal, day-to-day conversations!
P.S. Would you like to find out why I’mÂ highlightingÂ some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!
P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!