How To Learn English With Magazines

Photo by  Charisse Kenion  on  Unsplash

I've loved magazines since I was small, as a teenager living in North Wales I used to buy Vogue and dribble over the colours, textures and gorgeous sets, pure escapism from 'boring' small town life - I fantasised about living in London.

When I finally got to London as a student with extremely limited funds, I used the magazines again, to pretend I was a grown up and imagine life with money, sitting in my room listening to Radiohead with a poorly made rollup cigarette and my hipster beret (ouch.) 

Now that I AM a grown-up magazines serve a different purpose, after spending all day plugged into my laptop or iPhone, and having flirted with digital magazines in the past I love getting my hands on a real, made-of-paper Architectural Digest or Wallpaper. Sitting down - alone, this is very important as a part-time anti-social introvert - with a glass of wine and actually touching the paper, scribbling on the pages and tearing bits out to save for later.

It's one of the more fun ways you have to build your vocabulary.  

Magazines let you at once build your vocabulary, get yourself up to date with what’s happening in the country and cities of your chosen language, be it London, New York, Madrid, Paris or Berlin.

You'll find people to follow on social media, events going on to inspire you and recommendations for music to listen to, the latest vocabulary for talking about trends - which, you might not be interested in but will certainly help you when you’re having a conversation with a native speaker or listening to an interview! 

The quality of writing is going to be beneficial too, blogposts are great to get you reading in English, but they’re often lightly edited and can’t compare with an article in the New Yorker or Monocle.

Here are some activities you can do to make the most of your magazine:


I love to take an article or double page spread in a visual magazine such as Architectural Digest and try to label everything in the image, in as much detail as possible. You soon find gaps in your knowledge, this is the ‘rich’ vocabulary that gives you a luxurious ability to choose your words carefully and control the image that you present (plush velvet for example, was never going to appear in my Spanish classes!) 


One of the fastest ways to learn new vocabulary and also improve your structures when writing is to literally steal expressions or phrases from articles that you read. We can ‘hack’ our way to fluency in writing and speaking by making note of and reusing expressions until we assimilate the language. In your native language, you’ve picked up intonations, jokes, ways of saying things from a thousand different sources in your lifetime and this is a way to speed up the process in your second language.


This is an easy way to practise the expressions and vocabulary - one of my favourite things to do is to use a dedicated WhatsApp group with your language partner and send a combo of voice memos and actual texts, that way you’re practising speaking as well as writing and recycling vocabulary! If you don’t have a language buddy, you can use your dog/cat/rat/iguana - Rosie is a very obliging language partner to me when we go on our walks together.


Take 5 minutes and jot down the things you’ve discovered in a notebook, review it every few days and you’ll soon find you’re remembering things!

So here are my recommendations for magazines to read



Monocle -

The New Yorker -

Buffalozine -

Apartment -

Kinfolk -

Cereal -

Suitcase -



ISUU - I’m not sure how I came across this site, I think it was to embed a PDF in my site but it’s actually really useful, they curate digital magazines so you can access LOADS of different independent, under the radar and fascinating zines, delivered straight to your tablet or phone!


And HERE for the super enthusiastic amongst you is podcast, about magazines! I know, amazing eh?!

Magazines to learn English with-2.png