Podcasts‏‎ in Teaching English

Technology & TEFL

Several earphones handsfree cables hanging downA Podcast is a series of audio or video files distributed over the internet (in the same way as a broadcast in traditional media).

Podcasts can be accessed either live or transferred onto a local PC or iPod to access later.

Podcasts in Education

Podcasts can be integrated into your classroom to complement instruction. The flexibility and portability that podcasts offer make podcasting a valuable educational tool for both teachers and students.

Almost any activity that involves oral presentation can be adapted to create a podcast series. ESL‏‎ teachers can use podcasts in listening comprehension exercises but also in speaking activities by getting students to discuss the podcast’s content.

Podcasts allow teachers to provide each and every student with diverse and up-to-date listening materials thus adding variety and interest to their lesson content. In fact, podcasting allows teachers and students to get access to virtually any authentic listening source.

Which Podcast for Your Class?

In general, good podcasts should be focused on real, current English, and have exciting topics as well as interesting styles.

Many sites offer ready made podcasts. On the net you can find all sorts of podcasts from free everyday English podcasts with text for ESL listening and pronunciation practice, to podcasts focusing on grammar and writing, to MP3 podcast lessons for Business English‏‎ learners to weekly podcast of international business news.

But if you are not happy with what is already available then you can always create your own podcasts.

Podcasts can be created from original material by both students and teachers. Creating a podcast allows students to share learning experiences. It also provides them with a world-wide audience that makes learning meaningful and assessment authentic.

At the same time, teachers can use this technology to provide additional material for students to download and review at any convenient time.

Create Your Own Podcast

There are three main stages in creating a podcast:

  1. Recording. You will need a microphone and software such as Audacity (cross-platform) or GarageBand (Apple) to record your sound file. A number of sites on the Internet offer tutorials for using the software.
  2. Publishing. Once you have created your audio file and saved it, usually in mp3 format you need to upload it to a webserver. Many sites on the internet, including Blogger offer free podcast hosting services.
  3. Publicizing. Having created your podcast and uploaded it to make it available to potential users you need to provide a way for users to access your files. This may be as simple as providing a link from an existing webpage or more complex, such as creating an rss feed document which will allow users to subscribe to your podcast. Depending on the traffic your webpage receives, and the intended audience for your podcast, you may also choose to register your podcast. The easy way to go about creating your own podcats is to use an automatic podcast-creation program. Podomatic, Clickaster and Odeo are all programs which allow you to record and upload podcasts in one space, free of charge.

If you are after more flexibility then look for free digital audio recording software, such as Audacity a software that helps you turn audio files into podcasts or look at web hosting services, such as Audio Blog and Dreamhost.

Image © Will Lion

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