We all know that getting our students to regularly read outside of class in English is really important for improving their English (for getting them to broaden their vocabulary, see grammatical structures in use etc...). And with the web, they can find millions of articles which they can read for free.

Unfortunately, it seems from my experience that only the most dedicated ones regularly do this.

Although it is easy to put the blame on our students for not doing this, it is not purely their fault. It is very difficult for them to find online articles themselves which are both appropriate for their level and interesting to read (I know from personal experience how much time it takes and how frustrating it can be to find suitable and interesting articles on the web for my own students to read).

This is the reason why I created the two lists of English articles (one for intermediate/FCE students and the other for upper-intermediate/CAE students). These lists contain articles on a variety of different topics (to broaden their vocabulary), appropriate for the level of the student and interesting to read.

Go to the 'lists of English articles'.

All the articles which I have selected can be used for anyone with these levels from 14 years old upwards.

Below I now will explain both what these English article exercises are designed to do (it's not just reading) and my suggested method how you can use them with your students.

What these exercises will help your students with:

Reading Skills

Learning and Remembering Important Vocabulary

Speaking Skills

Using them in your classes

Now that you know what these articles have been designed to improve, I will now explain how you can use them in your classes. Before you read this, I recommend that you quickly familiarize yourself with one of article exercises (what the different parts of it are and what it asks the student to do).

How to use these articles in your classes

Use them for homework

I recommend that once a week, set one of the articles on the list as homework for your students. I find it works best if you give it them to do over a weekend.

Explain what they have to do and why

The first time that you give to them one of the article exercises to do for homework, you need to explain to them what they have to do. I find the best way to do this is to pick one of the articles and go through the process they have to follow in class (it should take you around 45 minutes to do). When doing this, this is what I recommend you do:


Get them to first read the 'Article summary' and then the article. Explain to them they are reading the text to understand its general meaning and that it is not important if they don't understand every word or phrase they read.


After they have finished reading it, then tell them that they have to do the vocabulary exercise below the article or button to the article. Put them in pairs when they are doing this and get them to guess from the context which they find the word or phrase in what its meaning is.


When they are confident they know the meaning for the first word/phrase, ask the students what they think the word/phrase means. When they have all done this, use an online dictionary (I often use the Free Dictionary to do this) and get them to confirm what the meaning of the word/phrase from the context of the sentence is (this is a useful exercise in demonstrating that words in English can have more than one meaning). Then get them to create a sentence using the word or phrase they have learnt.

Follow this process with the following words/phrases in the vocabulary exercise. It's not really necessary to do it for all seven in class, I have found that doing it for three or four is sufficient for teaching them what they have to do at home.


Then tell them that when they are doing one of the article exercise at home that the day after they read the article and done the vocabulary exercise, they have to write a sentence for each of the words or phrases they have learnt and then say them out loud.

Make sure to ask them why they should do this the day after and not on the same day. If they don't know, explain to them that it is important to do this the day after to help them remember them and that it will make it a lot more likely that they'll use them again in the future.

When you are showing them what to do the first time, get them to write the sentences in class and say them out loud (they can use the same sentence they came up with before).


Now that they know how to do the exercise, tell them that they should do all of this in the two days before the class happens so they don't forgot what the article they read was about.


Now that they know what they have to do, set them a different article exercise to read for homework.


I know this sounds obvious, but make sure you read the article you set your students to do for homework.

Get them to talk about the article in class

In my experience, it's likely that some of your students may not do this for homework. So in order to make sure that the majority do (or do so at least regularly), you need to check that they have. So at the beginning of the following class, get them to talk about what the article they read was about. Once they know that they always have to do this, you'll find that the majority of them will do it.

The best way to use when they are speaking about the article is to get them to do it in pairs. This means they will not only use some of the vocabulary they have learnt but they will speak more. When they are doing this, monitor what they are all doing. By doing this, it is easy to know if somebody hasn't read the article. If you think they haven't, make sure you ask them questions about it, this will encourage them to read the article you next set them to read.

When they are talking about the article, encourage them to use the words and phrases which they learnt in the vocabulary exercise (put the words/phrases up on the classroom white board when they are speaking).

Get them to express their opinion on the topic

One the main factors I use for deciding which articles to include in the lists, is will people find them interesting?

So, once they have described what the article they read was about, ask them questions (either as a group or in pairs) about what their opinion is on what they have read (e.g. 'What would you do if...?', 'Do you think it is right that...?' etc...). This not only makes the exercise interesting for them to do, but gets them to use vocabulary for agreeing and (more importantly) disagreeing.

Spend around 15 minutes doing the speaking part, but it's no problem if you spend more time (with some classes and with some articles, my students have spoken for nearly 45 minutes on the article and topic).

And that's it

That's all you have to do. I have personally found the whole exercise to be very successful with my students. I have noticed that both my students' confidence improves with speaking in English and their range and use of vocabulary too.