Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Podcasting for ESL-EFL purposes

picture taken from www.webanywhere.co.uk

As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, we’re living in a mobile society. We’re never in one place, and we can have Internet access almost everywhere we go. And apart from the creation of resources such as apps specially made for mobile devices such as iPhones, there’s something else that has become a simpler task nowadays: distribution of audio and video files. And this is when the term Podcasting starts rolling.

Podcasting, a combination of the words iPod and Broadcasting, implies the delivery and distribution of audio and video files over the internet in ordered to be listened on mobile devices and personal computers, this through the use of RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Here lies the real novelty of podcasting, the fact that this audio/video content can be downloaded automatically. In fact, with a ‘podcast receiver’ device (such as iTunes) you can simply upload tons of audio material or podcasts in your mp3 or mobile with high speed internet connection.

Anyhow, what we care about is, how can teachers take advantage of this technology? To begin with, the students can listen to these materials (radio programs, recorded conversations and so on) while they’re travelling, in a waiting room or even when simply commuting. This allows them constant exposure to the language they are learning, since they have the possibility to listen to a variety of material in the target language and about many different topics of their interest.

Appart from being exposed to real and authentic extracts of the target language, this material can supplement the listening we find in textbooks and provide extra listening possibilities, not only inside but also outside the classroom. I myself have used podcasts related to a specific topic in the curriculum in order to complement my classes and provide my students with further listening practice than the textbook materials can allow. Furthermore, the students can be exposed to different varieties of the language and feel optimistic to discuss about what they just heard.

I have even used podcasts the same way I use online videos, adding simple listening tasks which can be as simple as note-taking, answering questions, guessing the topic, doing true/false and/or multiple-choice exercises to mention a few. The use of podcasts in the ESL/EFL classroom is so widely accepted that we can find banks of material which teachers can access to in order to include them in their lessons, supported by exercises and transcripts.

ESL/EFL teachers can use podcasts further. As part of a class project, or for them to practice their speaking and pronunciation, the students can be encouraged to create their own podcasts and publish them for a real audience (e.g. classroom discussions, interviews, reports, speech work, etc.). This not only provides students with practice on a particular skill, but also promotes students’ engagement with the language they’re producing aimed to a wider, real, audience.

Podcasting is still a very recent but promising tool for English language teaching. Moreover, less explored but also promising is the use of webcasting, similar to podcasting, but which implies live transmission. In other words, we could have our students communicating in real time, not only with their peers, but also with EFL students in different parts of the world, involving them in really exiting cultural exchanges. This is already possible through sites such as EFL Bridges, for example, where students can call and chat to students from all around the world. Also, even though it’s a bit more demanding and harder to set up and produce, having our students produce video podcasting is another promising way to engage our learners, with programs and sites that allow the recording of video as well, such as Podomatic.

To finish, I invite you to listen to a sample of an interview-structured podcast made for my course on ICT in ELT. The conversation took place through Skype, recorded with MP3 Skype Recorder, edited in an audio editing program named Audacity and finally uploaded to Podbean.com


Recommended readings:

Chris Evans in his article ‘The Effectiveness of m-learning in the form of podcast revision lectures in higher education’ describes how effective has been podcasting as a tool in m-learning, specifically to teaching undergraduate students in higher education.  http://www.cblt.soton.ac.uk/multimedia/PDFsMM09/Effect%20of%20mobile%20learning%20in%20the%20form%20of%20podcast%20revision%20lectures%20in%20higher%20education.pdf

Also, if you’re interested in developSkype Recordering your proficiency on how to produce and publish podcasts and how to implement them in the language classroom, we recommend you to take a look at this blog, ‘Podcasting for the ESL-EFL classroom’. http://podcasting2013evo.blogspot.com/

Finally, this is an interesting material on an experience using student-generated video podcasts in a Japanese EFL classroom, written by Ami Christensen, that may give you some ideas on how to use this resource in any future projects. http://minds.wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/65612


  1. It looks awesome diana!! congrats!

  2. Very professional post Diana. Very precise and concise. You also have a great voice for radio programs.
    I do agree with you when you mention the many advantages of podcasts for students, especially the part about listening to podcasts while commuting considering our context, Caracas, where they spend at least two hours daily in commuting time.

  3. Way to go Diana... Very professional post, and you also have a great voice for radio programs. I do agree with you when you mention that students can take full advantage while of podcasts while commuting... especially in our context, Caracas, since they spend at least two hours daily getting to and from work.

  4. I agree with you, Diana. Podcasting is a promising tool for ELT. I have already opened a folder in my computer to keep a data base of podcasts taken from English speaking radio stations and channels. These podcasts are real convenient when preparing listening & comprehension activities for EFL learners.

  5. It is an amazing design!. It is so professional and dynamic.