Podcasts in Four Categories: Applications to Language Learning

Podcasts in Four Categories: Applications to Language Learning

Ulugbek Nurmukhamedov (Northern Arizona University, USA) and Randall Sadler (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-141-6.ch011
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Abstract

Language instructors often struggle to find useful and learner-friendly podcasts to supplement their language instruction. In an attempt to address this issue, we examined a number of podcasts for their applicability for use in teaching vocabulary and language. Based on this analysis, we identified four categories of podcasts that are useful for the learning process: 1) Discrete Category, 2) ESL-Focused, 3) General Audience, and 4) Superpodcasts. In this chapter, we discuss each category of podcast, providing several examples, and then we explore the strengths and weaknesses of each variety. Finally, we offer pedagogical suggestions to demonstrate ways in which language teachers can effectively use the podcasts to organize both in- and out-of-class language learning activities. As a supplement to the chapter, a wiki is also available that includes a number of podcasts covering a variety of languages: http://languagepodcasts.pbworks.com/
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Background

Podcasting in Education

A number of researchers have claimed that podcasts can be an effective language-learning tool (Thorne & Payne, 2005; Stanley, 2006; O’Bryan & Hegelheimer, 2007; Lacina, 2008; Bird-Soto & Rengel, 2009). Since most students are now coming to class fully equipped with digital devices, podcasting can create a ubiquitous learning opportunity. As long as these students have any sort of MP3 player, they can access classroom homework or extra teacher-recommended materials while “riding the bus or subway, walking across campus or through a shopping mall” (Thorne & Payne, 2005, p. 386). When podcasts are integrated into the existing syllabus or are used to supplement classroom instruction, these efforts can “spice things up in class” (Stanley, 2006, p. 3) because they add variety to classroom instruction by offering myriad additional activities and useful in- and out-of-class resources. In addition, if podcasts are used in the course, either integrated into the classroom curriculum or independently, they are “likely to increase intrinsic motivation by including both authentic texts, such as interviews with guest speakers, as well as by embracing the motivational appeal inherent in many multimedia-based language learning tools” (O’Bryan & Hegelheimer, 2007, p. 175).

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