Quality Indicators for Designing English Learning Podcasts

Quality Indicators for Designing English Learning Podcasts

Tingting Kang (Lafayette College, USA)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7876-6.ch004
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Abstract

Podcasts, one type of mobile-assisted language learning, have been promoted as promising tools in second language (L2) learning. Yet, quality indicators of podcast programs have not been generalized. Applying previous empirical results on predictors of listening comprehension, the purpose of this chapter was to identify English language learning podcast programs in iTunes that were preferred by language learners and teachers and build up a list of the indicators that can be considered for selecting and designing high-quality English language learning podcasts. Participants were 26 intermediate English as second language (ESL) learners at a southwestern American university and two of their listening and speaking teachers. The results revealed that the ESL students and their teachers both preferred podcasts that had interesting topics, natural speed, and clear pronunciation.
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Introduction

Podcast is a portmanteau which combines the “pod” from iPod, an MP3 player produced by Apple Inc., with “broadcast.” It was coined in 2004 (Matthew, 2008) and praised as “the word of the year for 2005” by the New Oxford American Dictionary (Balas, 2005). Initially, podcasts were limited to iPod users who uploaded and downloaded audio files through iTunes. Nowadays, podcasts are not only available for Apple products but also other personal music players, e.g., MP3 players, cell phones, laptops, and PDAs (personal digital assistants). People can publish their own audio or even video podcasts on the Internet via different social networking websites, such as iTunes, MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube. Matthew (2008) explained the detailed phases of the podcasting process, which included recording, digitizing, editing, encoding, and uploading. After uploading the podcasts, people all over the world could download them on their mobile or PC devices and listen repeatedly (McMinn, 2008). Such software as iTunes also allows users to subscribe their favorite podcasts to receive automatic updates.

There are a large number of language learning podcasts that are now available in iTunes. Different language teachers and researchers recommended language learners to subscribe to these existing podcasts to improve their language skills as discussed in one of the recently published meta-analysis studies (Indahsari, 2020). However, one obstacle that the language teachers and researchers often face is the selection of the most suitable podcasts. Designing appropriate and high-quality podcasts is also the primary concern for the podcast developers. Therefore, the purpose of this chapter was to identify English language learning podcast programs in iTunes that were preferred by language learners and teachers and build up a list of the indicators that can be considered for selecting and designing high-quality English language learning podcasts.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Podcast: It is a portmanteau which combines the “pod” from iPod, an MP3 player produced by Apple Inc., with “broadcast.” It can be uploaded and downloaded by subscribers through iTunes in the format of audio or video files.

Listening Comprehension: Second language learners’ receptive oral skill, or to what extent a listening passage has been understood.

Receptive Podcasts: Video or audio programs that can be subscribed or downloaded by the students to their personal electronic devices to improve their listening skills.

Productive Podcasts: Teacher- or student-created video or audio programs. For example, teachers upload their course recordings to make them accessible to their students; students can upload their own video or audio recordings to practice their speaking skills.

Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL): Any form of linguistic teaching or study that involves a portable device (e.g., mobile phones, tablet computers, and MP3 players).

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