A Case Study of Using Podcasts in ESL Modules for Hong Kong Pre-Service Teachers and its Impact on their Attitudes toward Podcasting

A Case Study of Using Podcasts in ESL Modules for Hong Kong Pre-Service Teachers and its Impact on their Attitudes toward Podcasting

Adrian Ting (Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-141-6.ch010
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Abstract

As a result of this project, this chapter concludes that podcasts have a lot of potential, not only as an integrative and supplementary learning tool, but also as a powerful generator of knowledge, which encourages active learning – a view shared by Sturgis (2008).
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Introduction

Academic podcasting is now widely used as an educational tool by many universities around the world. As the software for producing podcasts has become increasingly user-friendly, teachers need not be experts in educational technology in order to produce audio podcast files. All that podcasting requires is a computer, a microphone, sound editing software, and space on a server to host the podcasts (King & Gura, 2009). In language education, it is widely accepted that podcasting has enormous benefits. Many studies, such as those by Chinnery (2006) and Stanley (2006), have affirmed its usefulness.

King and Gura (2009) pointed out that ESL professionals are, in fact, the first group of educators to make use of podcasting, as there is “a natural need to consume content that is rich in listening to spoken language and instructional programs designed for them require constant acquisition of new content to satisfy that need” (p. 147). The most obvious use of podcasting in a language module is for listening comprehension. It is a great resource for global listening, as the materials are relevant and authentic (Constantine, 2007). Facer, Abdous, and Camarena (2009) noted that they firmly believe that foreign language learners, especially lower-performing students, can benefit from podcasts that serve as revision materials for oral and aural practice, and that podcasts can enable teachers to make better use of class time for other language learning tasks.

Various studies on the use of podcasting in foreign language courses have shown promise. Chan, Chen, and Döpel (2008) reported positive feedback about a podcasting project in which podcasts were used systematically in foreign language courses. The survey results show that podcasting is popular with students learning foreign languages, as podcasting offers language learning opportunities outside the classroom in the form of supplementary materials. Lord (2008) and Ducate and Lomicka (2009) also revealed the positive impact that podcasts had on pronunciation in foreign language classes (Spanish, French, and German). In both cases, students’ attitudes toward the importance of pronunciation in second language learning became more positive through the process of recording podcasts themselves and receiving feedback from peers and teachers alike. Furthermore, the former study also recorded improvement in pronunciation.

In terms of application, podcasting is not limited to providing pronunciation and listening resources for second language learners. Chaka (2009) exemplified many different uses of podcasts in language learning. Apart from conventional uses such as for listening to songs, poems, and news, podcasts can also be used for recording audio journals, creating verbal quizzes, and providing oral feedback to students. Sze (2006) recommended that podcasts be used for speaking tasks such as reading aloud, creating oral diaries, storytelling, giving advice, radio drama, jazz chants, and ELT rap. In addition, O’Bryan and Hegelheimer (2007) proposed that:

“[I]nstructors can invite guests to speak to their students at any time. The delivery of interviews and tips from guests in a podcast format enables students to easily download the audio or video file, listen to it at their leisure, and keep it for further reference later in the semester or even once they have completed the course.” (p.171)

Moreover, podcasts can also be used for storytelling and for experience sharing. Jenkins and Lonsdale (2008) described a student-generated digital storytelling project which not only encouraged creativity, but also caused students to be more reflective about their own learning. Similarly, King and Gura (2009) documented various case studies in which teachers shared teaching experiences and professional knowledge using podcasting.

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