Two elementary school students looking at a computer together.

10 Easy News Articles for ESL Students

By: Krista Nido

Sep 15, 2022 | 12 minute read

Teaching ESL students poses a unique challenge when it comes to language learning since beginning ESL students may find it hard to decode even the most basic verbal cues. However, teaching ESL students is incredibly rewarding when you witness them acquiring a new language to improve their learning. These 10 easy-to-read news articles for ESL students are short, interesting, and offer rich opportunities for language learning.

Just like in a regular classroom, ESL students require an empathic approach to learning since it may be easy for these students to feel left out, confused, and overlooked.  As such, in addition to making content available for ESL learners, it is also necessary that the content provides additional linguistic scaffolding support for unlocking vocabularies, comprehension checks, and leveled reading tailored to each student’s needs. 

New “Mesmerizing” Rainbow-Colored Fish Stuns Scientific World

Grade: 5-12

Subjects: Environmental Science

Resource Type: Marine Biologist, Ichthyologists, Species, Marvel

This easy news article for ESL students features a new mesmerizing rainbow-colored fish found off the coast of the Maldives. In the 1990s, scientists identified it as a known species by accident. When scientists took another look at the fish for a new study, they realized it was a new species!

This is an awesome resource for ESL teachers because students can easily relate it to the children’s classic storybook the Rainbow Fish. Students may recognize the fish, feeling like they spotted this beloved character on the news! The article also includes a stunning picture of the fish that will capture student’s attention.

ESL teachers can make a connection to the story by having students create an imaginary character for a sequel to Rainbow Fish. ESL students can also practice using adjectives to describe how the fish looks and create their own new species of fish patterned after the rainbow-colored marvel.

A Dog’s Life: New DNA Study Helps Us Understand Canine History

Grade: 5-12

Subjects: Science

Resource Type: Relationship, Evolution, DNA, Domesticated, Prehistory, Ice Age, Predator

This easy news article for ESL students details the history of man’s best friend - dogs. If your students have ever wondered how man’s furry friend evolved from a wild wolf to becoming part of human households, this article provides some explanation. 

This is an awesome resource for ESL teachers because the easy-to-read news article aims to trace canine history - from being fierce predators to beloved pets. This is an interesting article for students who love animals, especially dogs. ESL teachers can utilize this resource by connecting it to a lesson focused on sequencing events. ESL students can make a timeline based on the possible theories shared by the scientists in the article. Another lesson that ESL teachers can use is one about cause-and-effect explaining the evolution of dogs from wolves, which might be caused by human interaction during the Ice Age. 

The Heat Is On: Students Sent Home as Climate Change Heats Classrooms

Grade: 5-12

Subjects: Science

Resource Type: Climate Change, Humid, Ventilation, AC

This easy news article for ESL students narrates how some schools in Philadelphia and Baltimore sent kids home early due to extreme heat in the classrooms. Areas of the US - for example, the Northeast or Pacific Northwest - that have not previously experienced extreme heat or humidity,  are now finding school buildings too hot for students on certain days of the year. This problem occurs mostly during the start and end of the school year. Urban schools have limited physical space on which to build schools, which were often constructed to crowd large numbers of children into small spaces. Those areas usually lack shade from trees or other green spaces.

This is an excellent resource for teachers because although some students are definitely familiar with snow days, few of them have had “heat days” before. Temperature is something that is not at the forefront when discussing impacts on schools due to climate change, but this article provides a link by illustrating the detrimental effect of extreme heat on student achievement.

ESL teachers can maximize the resource by connecting it to a lesson on geography, perhaps asking students to locate some states on the map that suffer from extreme heat. ESL students can also record the average temperature in their classroom each day as a science activity. For ELA, teachers can ask students to identify the main idea of the text and note supporting details. ESL students can also highlight key evidence in the article that shows how extreme heat affects student learning.

Dolphins Tell Each Other Apart by Their Whistles

Grade: 5-12

Subjects: Science

Resource Type: Dolphins, Marine, Whistles, Habitat, Pitch

This accessible news article for ESL students describes the fascinating way in which dolphins use their whistles to tell each other apart and identify themselves. Dolphins’ unique whistles are like their names. Researchers have studied the sounds they make for more than 50 years. However, a recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports finds that two conditions influence these sounds: a dolphin’s specific habitat and its pod.  

This article is an awesome resource for teachers because the study is both interesting enough to catch your student’s attention, and the article is very comprehensive and provides a clear explanation of how these smart creatures utilize their sonic abilities. ESL teachers can use this resource to plan a creative writing activity in which students can imagine themselves as a creature that uses unique methods to introduce themselves. ESL teachers can ask - what action they would use, how they would use it, and why they would choose that particular movement. 

Scientists Unearth 86-Million-Year-Old Fossils of Flying “Dragon of Death” Dino

Grade: 5-12

Subjects: Science

Resource Type: Fossilized, Reptile, Species, Cold-blooded, Dominate, Specimen

This easy news article for ESL students reports the discovery of the fossilized remains of a monstrous flying reptile named the “Dragon of Death”.  The dragons were cold-blooded creatures; they are believed to be among the first flying animals to hunt their prey and they had no flying competitors. They evolved into various sizes and shapes, and scientists say these fossils are among the largest pterosaur remains ever discovered. 

This is an awesome resource for ESL teachers because the “Dragon of Death” seems straight out of an adventure book. This attention-grabbing topic will make students excited to read about scientists unearthing these unique creatures. ESL teachers can use this news article by connecting it to the lesson on inferring. Teachers can show pictures of the dinosaur and ask students to infer details about its life. ESL students can also try to guess what skills the dinosaur had, based on the impressive features described by the scientists.

Automakers Race to Put Cars on the Moon

Grade: 5-12

Subjects: Science, Social Studies

Resource Type: Space race, Rover, Transformation, Electrochemical

This simple news article for ESL students will be a sure hit amongst aspiring young space cadets and budding car enthusiasts alike! The article describes how car companies are trying to roll out new vehicles that drive across the moon’s surface.  Toyota officials released details about a space vehicle that will possibly provide moon colonists with a car where they can sleep, work, eat, and talk to others.

This is an awesome resource for ESL teachers because the space race has become increasingly connected to current events as more companies try to outdo each other in their missions to the moon. The article also offers a possible extension for students to conduct further research on initiatives to build a colony on the moon. ESL teachers can use the news article to encourage students to intelligently predict the kinds of technological advancements that could support life on the moon. ESL teachers can also connect the lesson to social studies and history as students learn more about man’s previous exploits on the moon.

Kindergartners Help Conservationists Save Turtles By Setting Them Free

Grade: 5-12

Subjects: Science

Resource Type: Endangered, Rescued, Hatched, Conservation

This accessible news article for ESL students talks about how a group of kindergartners released 17 rescued turtles into the wild. The turtles were hatched from eggs recovered from sea turtle mothers that were run over by cars. The hatched turtles were released into New Jersey wetlands. These students are participating in a special program that has rescued thousands of injured and unhatched turtles from dangerous places. Students from Stone Harbor Elementary School release new turtles every year.

This news article is perfect for ESL students because students can easily relate to the heroes of the article. This inspiring story shows that students, no matter how young,  can have tremendously positive effects on our environment.  This article is perfect for building awareness around and fostering empathy with endangered species. ESL teachers can utilize this resource by anchoring it to a lesson on making posters or slogans for saving turtles. As an extension activity, advanced students may create a short advertisement promoting the conservation of other endangered species.

Is Pluto a Planet? Scientists Battle Over the Answer

Grade: 5-12

Subjects: Science, Astronomy, Social Studies

Resource Type: Astronomy, Planetary, Gravitational, Orbit, Celestial

This easy news article for ESL students presents the unique dilemma amongst scientists about whether or not Pluto is a planet. One team of scientists argues that Pluto should once again be called a planet, and argue that dozens of other, similar objects in the solar system should also be classified as planets. Pluto was discovered in 1930 and it was classified a planet until 2006. 

This is an excellent resource for ESL teachers because the controversy about whether Pluto should be considered a planet will grab the students’ attention and address a relevant topic. After all, students have always been taught certain acronyms to memorize the names of the planet, and if one is missing, that concept also stands to change. ESL teachers could also connect this lesson to a science unit on the solar system.

ESL teachers can utilize this resource by asking students to create a compare and contrast chart on what characterizes a celestial body as a planet or not, based on the descriptions in the article. ESL students can compare planets, suns, moons, and other celestial objects as an extension activity.

School Buses are Going Electric for Kids’ Health and the Environment

Grade: 5-12

Subjects: Environmental Science

Resource Type: Emit, Infrastructure, Pollute, Activists

This news article for ESL students highlights how school buses are now going electric to promote the health of students and the environment. The electric buses are cheaper to maintain, don’t pollute like the current buses, and are very quiet. Although the buses cost a lot, the current administration and increasingly more school districts are recognizing the need to invest in more environmentally-friendly school buses.

This is a great resource for ESL teachers because kids are at the center of this issue. Students use the bus daily, and reading about options to provide a healthier way for them to get to school, while also saving the environment, may make them feel encouraged about environmental issues and outcomes.  

This is an excellent resource for teachers to use in a persuasive letter-writing activity, asking students to write to their respective school districts or representatives to make the switch to electric school buses. A possible extension activity for more advanced students is to write a grant proposal, like the student mentioned in the article. 

Fugitive Flamingo “Pink Floyd” Spotted in Texas

Grade: 5-12

Subjects: Environmental Science

Resource Type: Prevented, Rarely, Sanctuary, Flamingo, Escaped

This easy-to-read news article for ESL students details the adventures of an escaped pink flamingo from a Kansas Zoo in 2005. It's since been spotted in Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Now, a fisherman on the Texas Gulf Coast just captured the flamingo on video.

This resource is awesome for ESL teachers because the students can find humor in it, not least in the way the escaped flamingo was named Pink Floyd. This news article for ESL students also uses familiar vocabulary words that are easily understood by using context clues. The short article also features a direct, entertaining quote from the fisherman who saw the flamingo. Teachers can use this news article for ESL students to create the path that the adventurous flamingo has taken, creating a short story about the possible adventures, sights, and experiences of the pink flamingo.

ESL learners in our classrooms have unique lived experiences and traditions that can add value to instruction. As educators, it is our responsibility to explore the unique strengths of ESL learners and see how we can act as ESL support as they acclimate to a new environment. Capitalizing on the impressive features of these accessible news articles for ESL students provides high-quality, engaging content for your classroom that will foster both language learning and environmental awareness. 

About the Author

Krista Nido currently lives in South Burlington, Vermont. She has over 6 years of teaching, mostly elementary and middle school students. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and Higher Education. She loves writing as much as teaching. She likes to cook in her free time and is passionate about food waste and its impact on climate change.