[Language learning with technology, 5 Listening, page 82]
Podcasting (a portemanteau of the words iPod and broadcasting) is the name given to the publishing of audio (usually mp3 files) via the Internet, designed to be downloaded and listened to on a portable mp3 player of any type, or on a personal computer.
Podcasting as a language learning technology became popular in 2005 as ‘an alternative way of providing 'radio' type content that can be listened to whenever, wherever and as many times as the listener wants’ (Stanley, 2005). At that time, some teachers started producing podcasts for students, many of which were of dubious quality (both in audio quality and pedagogically), and although some teachers still do this, and others create podcasts with their students, the number of professionally produced podcasts has exploded. This means that nowadays, the main appeal for language learning is that there is now a wealth of additional listening input for students that can cover a wide range of subjects and interests.
Podcasts for language learning can be roughly divided into two types (Stanley, 2006): ‘authentic podcasts’, by which I mean those not specifically made for language learners, and ‘language learning podcasts’.
iTunes (www.apple.com/itunes) is still the best source of podcasts. When you look at the educational category (see below), you’ll see that language learning podcasts dominate. Most of these are free, and lower level learners can be encouraged to subscribe to them, download episodes and listen to them at home. If your learners are advanced level, then you may want to encourage them to look for podcasts that coincides with their own interests.
Here are some podcast recommendations for learners:-
- British Council’s LearnEnglish Elementary podcasts (http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/elementary-podcasts). A magazine-style podcast that is supported by a wide variety of materials (transcripts, exercises, etc) which makes it ideal for language learners.
- BBC podcasts (http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts). Perhaps the largest collection of authentic podcasts on the web.
If you are interested in learning more about podcasts, and particularly if you would like to know more about making podcasts for and with your learners, then I recommend the excellent resources produced by the TESOL EVO session ‘Podcasting for the ESL/EFL classroom’ (see http://podcasting2013evo.blogspot.com.es/). For the last few years, this group of educators have run a free 5 week online workshop for educators, and they have created an excellent collection of resources about podcasts (http://podcasting2013readings.blogspot.com.es/) and activities / links to podcasts (http://podcastingevo2013activities.blogspot.com.es/).
- Stanley, G (2005) ‘Podcasting for ELT’, TeachingEnglish. Available online: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/articles/podcasting-elt
- Stanley, G (2006) Podcasting: Audio on the Internet comes of age. TESL-EJ Vol. 9 No.4. Available online: http://www.tesl-ej.org/ej36/int.pdf