[Shigeru Yamane & Kathleen Yamane. Tokyo: Kinseido Publishing, 1: 2019, 2: 2020, 3: 2021, 4: 2022. (Teacher’s books, DVDs, and CDs available, as well as student access to streaming videos) 1: p. 111. ¥2,500. ISBN: 978-4-7647-4073-0, 2: p. 109. ¥2,600. ISBN: 978-4-7647-4096-9, 3: p. 111. ¥2,700. ISBN: 978-4-7647-4115-7, 4: p. 128. ¥2,800. ISBN: 978-4-7647-4145-4.]
Broadcast: ABC World News Tonight is one of several textbooks published in Japan that use authentic news stories from English news broadcasts. This series has been using US broadcasts from ABC’s World News Tonight since 1987. I adopted the 2019 edition for my required, first-year intermediate listening and speaking general English classes before the pandemic. At the time, I asked my classes to help me choose a textbook for the next academic year, and 73 out 83 students recommended ABC News. Since then, a new edition has been published every January for the last three years with all new news stories from the preceding year. The latest 2021 and upcoming 2022 editions include stories about the pandemic.
Each news story in the textbook itself is logically organized into three parts: Before You Watch the News Exercises, the News Story, and After You Watch the News Exercises. Before You Watch includes preview questions and warm-up matching and fill-in-the-blank exercises that introduce five vocabulary words from the news story. The News Story includes a script with fill-in-the-blanks and notes with more vocabulary from the news story defined in Japanese. After You Watch includes true and false sentences, fill-in-the-blank translation and summary practice, and discussion questions. These exercises should help students adjust to listening to authentic news stories. In addition, the Appendix includes a map of the US that shows where each news story took place, an introduction to TV news broadcasts in Japanese and English, and a list of abbreviations and acronyms used in the news stories in alphabetical order. The teacher’s book, which includes language support in Japanese as well, includes the answers to the exercises in English, the complete Scripts in both English and Japanese, and Vocabulary Review Tests for each news story. Each test is comprised of a summary of each news story with fill-in-the-blanks for 10 key vocabulary words from the news story, and definitions in English for the keywords are provided. The teacher’s book also includes QR codes and links to various other related news stories and sources with Additional Information and Updates.
I used this textbook for the first-time last year—my first year online. That first year, I supplemented the textbook with new stories from an NHK website that added five new stories from World News Tonight every week, and each story, like the stories in the textbook, was short—just one minute each with language support in both English and Japanese. Unfortunately, this resource is no longer available. When I used this textbook again this year—my second year online—I just went directly to ABC News and supplemented with additional new news stories from ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir’s website (abcnews.go.com/WN). The news stories in the textbook are also still available here along with updates. For example, the first news story in the 2019 edition is Sister Jean: Basketball Team’s Secret Weapon. Sister Jean was 98 years old when this new story aired and 100 by the time classes started last year. However, there have been four more news stories about Sister Jean since the news story in the textbook. This led me to ABC’s podcasts (abcaudio.com/podcasts/), which includes a podcast of World News Tonight with David Muir, updated every day with the audio from the most recent broadcast. Coincidentally, the featured podcast, The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial (2021), was an update not only of one of their most popular podcasts, The Dropout (2019), but also of the second story in the 2019 edition.
I have been using this textbook for project- or task-based language teaching. After chatting about stories from the textbook or supplementary materials, students record their own news stories. We use the news stories more than anything else as conversation starters for group discussion and as examples for presentations. Some students choose their own presentation topics, but many seem more comfortable starting with a topic from the textbook and updating it from a non-American perspective. We stopped just short of trying to record our own podcasts this year, but we may try that next year.
For the next year, I will use the 2021 edition of this textbook—my first year back on campus. I think the combination of using a newer edition and being back on campus will require fewer supplementary materials. At the same time, the ease with which this textbook can be supplemented is one of the main reasons my students recommended it in the first place and why I continue to recommend it for those interested in using authentic materials for task-based language learning.