Media English

LecturerEdward HAIG, Professor
DepartmentGraduate School of Languages and Cultures, 2011 Spring
Recommended for:Graduate School of Languages and Cultures Media Professional Course (21.5 hours / session One session / week 15 weeks / semester)

Key Features

I have found that Media Professional Department students are very interested in the latest news from around the world but they are not sure how to access and make use of it. Therefore, the “Words in the News” section of the BBC Learning English website, which is constantly being updated with new stories, is a very valuable resource for them. Not only is it useful for studying about foreign news, but it is also very interesting when there is a story about Japan because in such cases students can see how the media in another country, in this case Britain, reports on their own country. This often surprises them because they are generally only familiar with Japanese media and the ‘angle’ taken and the way of reporting are often quite different.

I must admit that I am not very familiar with modern educational technology but I do at least make use of email to notify students a few days in advance of each class about which particular story from “Words in the News” I am planning to discuss in the lesson. Since the materials are available online, students can study them wherever and whenever they like before coming to the lesson. This ensures that we make good use of in-class time for discussion and presentations about the chosen topics.

For each story, I also try to provide students in advance with some relevant background materials relating to the story in order that they can get a better understanding of how the story fits in to the broader social, cultural, political, economic and historical contexts. I find that popular sites such as YouTube and Wikipedia often provide useful and motivating materials for this purpose. In the case of the latter, although it seems that it is not yet widely known, in addition to the main English version of the site there is also a Simple English version ( which, like the “Words in the News” stories, are specifically intended for non-native speakers. I would recommend all learners of English to try searching for information on this site.

Finally, I would like to mention something about the Extensive Reading component of the course. In addition to the somewhat intensive approach to the study of media English that we take in our lessons, as an on-going background task students are also required to do quite a lot of reading from special books called “graded readers”. Fortunately for us, these are plentifully available in the library of Nagoya University. If you are not familiar with these wonderful little books, I strongly recommend you to seek them out because they offer an incredibly enjoyable and effective way of improving your English ability. The key point about graded readers is that they are produced in series with varying degrees of difficulty, in terms of grammar and vocabulary, and students can choose to start reading books which match or perhaps just slightly exceed their current reading comprehension ability level. The lowest level books are written in extremely simple English, and indeed are often in the form of comics with lots of pictures and few words per page. But as you progress up through the levels the difficulty increases so that, at the highest levels, there is little difference between them and books written for native speakers. An enormous range of such books, produced by several publishing companies, are available, so you are sure to be able to find something at your level that will interest you. Some of the books have been newly written for the series, but many others offer simplified re-writings of famous works of English literature, even Shakespeare! There are also many non-fiction books including a lot of biographies of famous people. For you own personal study you can just read and enjoy these books, but for the students taking this course I ask them to write a very short, simple report, in English, about each one just to give them a chance to express their impression of the book in English and to receive some written feedback from me about it. One measure of the popularity of these books is that I have often seen students absorbedly reading them on the underground coming to or from Nagoya University, and indeed several students have told me that they have sometimes missed their stop on the underground because they were so absorbed in reading the story!

Here is a useful link ( for further information on Extensive Reading. There are plenty of other sites in the internet too.

Course Outline

The lessons will be conducted in accordance with the course's four aims. In each lesson students will study English and practice using English in a variety of ways. In the majority of lessons students will begin by reading an English newspaper or magazine article or watching or listening to part of an English language television or radio programme. This will be followed by group discussions about the topic and any difficult aspects of the language. Towards the end of the course, students will make short PowerPoint presentations in English on a certain media-related topic of their choice. In addition to the in-class study, students will also be encouraged to make use of two kinds of self-access materials. Firstly, the wide selection of Extensive Reading materials that are available in the Central Library of the university; and secondly, the English Language learning resources produced by the BBC World Service, which are available online at

The actual details of the course, such as the level of difficulty of the materials to be studied and the relative emphasis on the four aims, will be decided by the teacher and students together at the beginning of the course according to the English ability and personal interests and wishes of the students who take the course. Because the English ability level of students who take the course is likely to vary, the course will involve a combination of whole class, small group and individual teaching.

Text and Reference Books

To be introduced during the lessons.

Here is a list of some of the “Words in the News” stories that we studied last year:

  • Day of Remembrance in China ( Link)
  • Tintin Book on Trial ( Link)
  • Pressure Builds on North Korea ( Link)
  • Japan's New Prime Minister ( Link)
  • Zimbabwean Diamonds “Still Bloody” ( Link)
  • Milan Mafia Court Case Continues ( Link)

Lecture Handouts

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 BBC Learning English ( 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” ( 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.


Attendance; In-class activities; Participation in class discussions; Powerpoint Presentation.

Last updated

March 25, 2020