Four L2 Learning Objectives to Guide Podcast Design

Four L2 Learning Objectives to Guide Podcast Design

Claudia Fernández (DePaul University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-141-6.ch002
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Abstract

This chapter addresses the production of podcasts as second language (L2) instructional materials developed by language instructors. The author discusses the importance of having clear language learning objectives when creating podcasts. The clarity of the objectives will depend on the particular nature of these materials and will influence podcast design and outcomes. In an effort to contribute to the understanding of podcast design that effectively promotes L2 acquisition and development, the author proposes that podcasts - when used by students as listening tools - can help the L2 learner accomplish four main learning objectives: (1) language acquisition, (2) development of listening comprehension skills, (3) learning of explicit information about the L2 and (4) awareness of the target culture. As with any L2 learning materials (Mobile Assisted or not), podcast development should be based on what is known about L2 acquisition and best teaching practices (Rosell-Aguilar, 2007; 2009). Therefore, the author addresses some of the aspects of language learning and teaching that should be considered in order to create well-informed podcasts that aim at the four proposed learning objectives.
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Background

In an article published in 2007, Rosell-Aguilar called for a search for a podcasting pedagogy for L2 learning. He addressed the nature, the potential, the advantages and disadvantages of podcasts for language learning and concluded that materials developed for podcasting, based on their nature, fit with what we currently know about the way in which languages are learned. That is, podcasts have the potential to provide authentic materials, to be meaningful, to provide comprehensible input, and to promote a focus on target forms. However, in spite of their potential, Rosell-Aguilar particularly pointed out the poor quality of the design and the outdated teaching methodologies that were prevalent in most of the podcasts available on the internet at that time. He observed that “…having the technical know-how does not necessarily imply a pedagogic know-how” (p. 486). He concluded that a deeper look at the way in which materials are conceived is necessary and is called for the need for a better design, one based on theory and best teaching practices.

Other scholars have commented upon the same situation. McQuillan (2006b), for example, mentioned that, as with any emerging technology used for language learning purposes, there is always the chance of falling back to outdated methodologies. This is what he called the “old wine into new skins problem” (p. 18). He highlighted the promise of podcasting as a means of disseminating L2 listening materials, and pointed out the practice at that time: “…to replicate the often dull largely unsuccessful listening material that predominates the current market in the podcasting venue” (p. 18).

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