Thursday, 5 July 2007

Podcasts

If any one innovation is going to help language learners more than any other, it’s the podcast. “Listening” has traditionally been limited to the classroom, controlled and graded, or hanging out with the teacher/conversation-friend. Works well, but limited chance to do this, really.

The purpose here is to encourage YOU to tell us about a podcast you have found, and tell us a bit about it – why you like it, where you listen to it, cool stuff you learned. Would you recommend it, and so on.

Can you improve your English skills with podcasts, then? Absolutely “Yes”. As with reading, the more you do, the more confident & able you become. But beware the misconception that ‘showering yourself in English’ alone will get you there. As well as listening for fun – topics you are interested in/know a lot about already for example – learners also need to develop listening skills/broaden their lexical exposure. Try something new – have a look at other student’s recommendations & have a listen yourself – were they right? Do you disagree? Let them know – post your own comment!

Ever read a ‘boring’ book, just because you’d bought it? Took forever?! Well, your investment with podcasts is practically zero; yes you do need a PC & internet connection, and a device to play the thing on…but in gadget heaven that is Japan, this is not going to be much of an issue for long! You do not have to ‘get your money’s worth’ because so much material out there is free.

I am not going to explain here what a podcast is, nor “How to”. If you really need help, email me or ask me to show you. I’ll be quite happy to do so. If you want to find a particular topic, google it, or go to iTunes & “search”. Teachers’ tip = change your location at the very bottom of the ‘home’ page to UK (or USA, or wherever) for local content – you are looking for English language material, right? You can subscribe to a majority of podcasts for free. If you don’t like one, delete it – but tell us why you didn’t like it too!

Personally, I like to listen to BBC radio programmes that I have always missed – sports quizzes or cricket commentary; Prime Minister’s Question Time & other political shows; Melvyn Bragg’s arts programmes etc. There are also a number of newspapers offering podcasts too, which offer interesting perspectives & unusual topics. My favourites? I won’t bore you here with a list. Check out the reviews that will accumulate here, and also “iLike” on iTunes.

Links to podcasts that Luna International recommends specifically for language learning can be found on our website www.lunalanguageschool.com under links.