Where does our news come from?

This article is a supplement to both Orbits (2017) and Orbits Lower-Intermediate (2018) books.

Vocabulary: Media, blog, social media, distributor, propaganda, journalist, news/media outlet, economical, product placement, political, politician, election, pollute, reliable, …

The US 2016 election revealed a major problem in society. The problem is the lack of ‘media literacy’. Media literacy is the ability to understand news and information. Many people think that it’s easy to read a newspaper, but the 2016 election revealed that countless millions of Americans were duped by Russian propaganda, and they did not even know it. This article will firstly discuss the origin of news in the past and today. Secondly, a discussion of how Americans are getting their news information today. Finally, the consequences of this.

Firstly, how do we get our news is important to know. In the past, the news came from newspapers. These newspapers employed their own journalists who went out to get their own news stories. There are two problems with this, it is expensive to employ a team of journalists, and the news could only come from local sources. Consequently, newspapers, TV news, magazines, and news blogs now buy news stories from each other, and news distribution companies like Reuters and AFP. Both Reuters and AFP have journalists all over the world finding and getting information. News distributors can write one story, and sell it hundreds of times, which is a cheaper economical than each newspaper sending their own journalists to write one news story to be used only once.

Today, media outlets (newspapers, tv news, news magazines, and news blogs) are finding more difficult to be profitable. Consequently, the media needs to make money from new sources. One new source of money is to be paid to publish articles that are like advertising for companies. For instance, Japan Today often publishes information about new electronic products. US media often publishes stories about political candidates. Basically, anyone, for any reason can publish almost anything, but they must pay.

Secondly, the traditional media is no longer the main source of news and information anymore. Many people in the US now create information, or discover sources of information, from websites and blogs, and share these in their social media feed. Consequently, for some, friends’ Twitter and Facebook feeds have become important sources of information for many. Polluting this feed are advertisements and fake accounts.

Finally, there is increasing evidence that the Russian government manipulated the US 2016 election. They did this quite simply by adding to the social media news feed messages that oppose each political party. These messages amplified the political and racial divisions in the US leading to intense hatred of each side. What will happen next? Nobody knows.

In summary, our source of news and information is not reliable anymore. Now there are paid product placements, and paid political articles in our newsfeed. Additionally, our social media is polluted with paid ads and fake information designed to keep us away from making good rational decisions about life. Consequently, we need to pay careful attention as to the real source of news and information.

  1. Summarise what you understand from this article
  2. What information was new and interesting to you?
  3. What happened to the US election in 2016? Could this happen in Japan too?
  4. How can Japan protect itself from another country manipulating the social media and the next election?
  5. How do you feel about this topic?

Homework Quarter 2

WordEngine data will be downloaded on Monday the 30th July, and no more data will be collected until Quarter 3.

Oral Communication FB, B, & P

  • Review pronunciation, vocabulary and conversation strategies in Orbits units 1-12.
  • Prepare Orbits unit 11 & 12 vocabulary and article, including answers/ideas to the discussion questions.
  • Do WordEngine; get at least 210 correct responses each week, but aim for 300. WordEngine data will be downloaded on 30th July, so marks collection will end then.
  • Visit Word Plaza as much as possible (open from 11am to 6pm each weekday)
  • Final speaking tests will be 19th to 25th July (a little early, in case of typhoon interruptions), and may include any article from units 7 to 12. Possible topics:
  • Unit 7-12
  • Unit 8 Research Task
  • Your own research task for units 11 or 12
  • Final report is due 12pm, 30th July. I’ll be in the World Plaza probably from about 10am to 12pm. Please try to submit before this day (in class). New video recordings will be done on 9th/10th or 12th/13th July. Start your reports as soon as you can.
  • During the speaking tests:
  • – Prepare for your own test (review vocabulary, articles, pronunciation, conversation strategies, own research on the topic, etc)
  • – Bring your laptop and work on your final report.
  • Enjoy life

Communication Skills

  • Review pronunciation, vocabulary, mini dialogues, and conversation strategies in Orbits, units 1-6
  • Do WordEngine, at least 210 correct responses each week, aim for 300
  • Do extensive reading, about 4,000 words a week, keep your ER reports up to date
  • Visit World Plaza as much as possible (open from 11am to 6pm each weekday)
  • Speaking test possible topics (to be confirmed later):
    1. Into Literacy: Extensive Reading, p27-8
    1. Into Literacy: Book Clubs, p105-6
    1. Blog: Where Does Our News Come From?
    1. Extensive Reading: Introduce a book you’ve read recently
    1. Orbits: “Summary of what has happened in the story so far, and what you think may happen next, and why”.
    1. Extensive Reading: Introduce a book you’ve read recently
  • Enjoy life


  • Review vocabulary for articles already studied
  • Review Into Literacy Section 1, Basic Essay Structures, 12-25.
  • Review grammar in Into Literacy, p79-84.
  • Do WordEngine, 210 correct responses each week, aim for 300.
  • Do extensive reading, about 3,500 words a week, keep your ER reports up to date
  • Final Report: Task 5 & Portfolio, due in class 23rd July
  • Enjoy life

Literacy Class Final Report

There will be updates, so come back to check this page regularly.

You should have these parts in your Task 3 report, due 24th May, and revisions due 31st May (TBC):

  • Metadata
  • Introduction
  • Body
    • Summary (of the whole novel, not just chapter one)
    • Critical Review (writing style)
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Checklist attached.
  • Topic research notes attached

During speaking tests today

Don’t waste time, be productive.

  • Prepare for your own speaking test
  • Help a friend prepare for their speaking test
  • Review vocabulary
  • Do WordEngine
  • Prepare Unit 4
  • Do extensive reading for your other class
  • Get a copy of your video (only able to do this today)
  • Do the Self-reflection (due this Friday)
  • ONLY use ENGLISH!!!

The change between speaking tests must be quick, otherwise we might not be able to finish. Bring your speaking test feedback marksheet with your name and student number on it.

The speaking test is a maximum of 5 minutes, and you’ll do it in pairs, with a randomly assigned partner. The topic will be randomly chosen by dice roll:

  • 1&2 Basic Communication
  • 3&4 Extensive Reading
  • 5 Wombats
  • 6 Your own research task from Unit 3

About WordEngine

Thanks to the three students who have asked about this. I didn’t know that this year the system is so different. Last year, WordEngine was an app to download, and a card to buy for students who don’t have their own credit cards. This year, I was told in an email in early March that the system is different and works on all smartphones, tablets and computers. They did not say that there is no smartphone app for iOS or Android anymore. The steps:

  1. In your web browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Brave, etc)
  2. Type wordengine.jp, press “Go” or “Enter”. You should arrive at http://www.wordengine.jp/go/ and,
  3. Bookmark it, or Add to Favourites.

Now, just use WordEngine from the website; no app needed. Yay!

Next steps (at home):

  1. Do V-check (to get your vocabulary size)
  2. Enter your card code for paid access
  3. Join the class group
  4. Study each week, Monday to Saturday at least 150 correct answers each week (about 10 minutes a day)

More information about learning vocabulary, go to Winjeel.Com > English Classes > Vocabulary.

Homework Quarter 1

All classes:

World Plaza opens on the 7th May, open from 11am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Oral Communication FB

  • Review Orbits, Unit 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Pronunciation, Small Talk, Vocabulary, Culture Note, and Conversation Strategies.
  • Prepare unit 7 vocabulary and article
  • Do WordEngine and get more than 150 correct responses each week. Study at least 10 minutes a day, every day.
  • For the final exam, study vocabulary for dialogues and articles from units 1-6, conversation strategies, and pronunciation for units 1-6. Use only pen and highlighters. See a sample exam here.
  • Have fun

Oral Communication B & P

  • Review Orbits, Unit 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6, Pronunciation, vocabulary, articles, dialogues.
  • Prepare Orbits unit 7.
  • Do WordEngine and get more than 150 correct responses each week. Study at least 10 minutes a day, every day.
  • IMPORTANT POINT: If you don’t understand something: ask; otherwise you may fail important tasks in the future.
  • For the final exam, study vocabulary for dialogues and articles from units 1-6, conversation strategies, and pronunciation for units 1-6. Use only pen and highlighters. See a sample exam here.
  • Have fun

Communication Skills

  • Review Orbits, Units 0, 1, 2, and 3, Classroom Vocabulary (p14-16), and small talk p10. Practice listening to units 1-3 at here.
  • Preview Orbits Unit 3, and vocabulary.
  • Review Into Literacy, Article: Extensive Reading, vocabulary p26 & article p27; Book Clubs, p105-106, themes and summaries; similes, metaphors, & personification, p72-74.
  • Do WordEngine, and get more than 150 correct responses each week. Study at least 10 minutes a day, every day.
  • Do Extensive Reading (ER), read about 4,000 words each week.
    • Prepare a report/summary about your ER book for each Thursday
    • Prepare for the poster presentation with your partner
  • Have fun


  • Do ER reading; read about 3,500 words each week.
    • Prepare a report/summary about your ER book for Thursday
  • Review Into Literacy vocabulary and articles, Extensive Reading, Copyright Basics
  • Preview Into Literacy Making Money from your Blog, p29-30.
  • Do WordEngine, and get more than 150 correct responses each week. Study at least 10 minutes a day, every day.
  • Report & ERWatch “How to Write Simple Introductions“.
    • Finish reading Earrings from Frankfurt, and complete your report.
    • Submit your portfolio on Thursday (inc. Tasks 3, 1 and 2; both first and second drafts; use a binding clip). Stapled to Task 3 the Checklist and your Topic Research Notes.
    • Submit all Extensive Reading reports on Thursday (stapled)
    • Task 3, draft 2, due Thursday between 9am to 11.20am 31st May, at the World Plaza.
  • Have fun

During pronunciation & speaking tests

Andrew will be busy, and you should be too. While you’re waiting to do your pronunciation or speaking test, don’t waste time, and DO NOT USE JAPANESE during this time. You can do any of the following:

  • Listen to Vixen and the Crow, Reading in the Real World Intro, or Orbits.
  • Finish listening to the remaining Orbits units, 24-30.
  • Prepare for your own pronunciation or speaking tests
  • Review articles and vocabulary (and pronunciation) for
    • Orbits, units 16-23
    • Reading in the Real World: Intro, units 7, 8 9, 10, 11, and a graded reader you enjoyed
  • Oral Communication classes review extra information from poster and PowerPoint presentations and your own research for units 16-23
  • Review conversation strategies in:
    • Orbits, units 0-23
    • Conversation Gambits: 1, 3, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 27, 28, 29, 31, 46, 47, 50, 56, 57, 58
  • Help a friend prepare for their own pronunciation & speaking test
  • Review the story in Orbits, units 1-23.
  • Oral Communication class, prepare for your exam
  • Do Word Engine study
  • Do extensive reading
  • Complete your extensive reading reports

How to write a Christmas Card

This is actually really simple. Just mix together some phrases. The phrases are fixed phrases, and so using a computer translation system will ruin the card.

Key phrases:

  • To Yuki, I/We wish you and yours  (for person + family)
  • Dear Yuki, Wishing you
  • a (very) Merry Christmas
  • Happy/Wonderful/Fantastic New Year
  • Happy/Wonderful/Fantastic 2018
  • Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
  • Wishing you all the best these holidays
  • Peace, joy, and love to you and your family.
  • May your Christmas season be filled with joy
  • Sending you happy tidings this holiday season.
  • May this New Year be filled with joy!
  • God bless you this holiday season — Merry Christmas!

For more, see: https://holidappy.com/greeting-cards/Christmas-Card-Messages-What-to-Write-in-a-Christmas-Card.

DO: Use phrases nicely put together, and maybe add a personal message if you like. Messages in cards are usually short and simple. However, each message should be unique. Example:

Dear Yukihiro,

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, and a wonderful 2018.

Many happy returns,

Hiroyuki & family

Another example:

To Masahiro,

We wish you a Merry Christmas and fantastic New Year. We hope all will go well for your trip to Vietnam this Spring.

Very best,

Hiromasa & Yuki

Notice about WordEngine

Lexxica will conduct server maintenance on December 19th starting at 12:30 pm and lasting until about 4 pm. Two security updates will be implemented as well as improvements to the WordEngine mobile flashcards application. Improvements to the app include faster task delivery speed and more recognizable transitions between the word tasks.

2017年12月19日(月) 午後12時半から午後4時の間メンテナンス作業を実施させていただきます。