Although students from other departments often take this course, it is offered principally to graduate students in the Media Professional Course of the Graduate School of Languages and Cultures. The focus, therefore, is very much geared towards the needs of those students. Specifically, the course aims to provide students with opportunities to practice the skills they need to understand information produced by English language media of various kinds. Since this is an elective, graduate level class, it is assumed that students taking the course will already have an adequate grasp of everyday English so that they can participate in class activities such as discussions and presentations in English.
Since the emphasis of the course is on practicing English language skills, the format of the lessons does not include lectures and so there are no lecture notes as such. Such being the case, in order to give you an idea of the sorts of materials that are studied during the lessons I would like to introduce the main source of teaching materials that we use. These materials are taken from a website produced by the BBC (the British Broadcasting Corporation), which is the national public service broadcaster for the United Kingdom. The website is called BBCLearningEnglish (http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/). This contains a wonderful range of resources for English language learners and the best thing about them is that they are all free. Of course, other countries produce similar sites, but since I am English I find the BBC site the most valuable one to teach with. I also find that unlike some other sites the BBC generally reports the news in an objective, clear logical way that avoids unnecessary sensationalism or jargon.
Within this website, the section that is used most in this class is called “Words in the News” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/wordsinthenews/index.shtml). This section provides short, topical news stories in slightly simplified English. In addition to being simplified, the stories also come with a set of definitions for the more difficult vocabulary items and you can listen to a recording of the journalist reading the story. There is also usually a link to a longer story on the same topic from the main BBC News website. Whereas this story might be rather difficult for students to read and understand on its own, after they have studied the Learning English version students find it much easier, which helps them feel more confident about reading and listening to English-language news.