Teacher! Why not Podcasting?
Myself have heard poscasts many times from my dear turor but ends NEVER trying. Until recently do I pick it up, when I read about how attractive it is in one of the coursebooks "How to teach English with technolgy". Curiously, I simply parcel my voice and get it published (via http://www.podomatic.com/)! Such a wonderful experience that leads me to dig deeper.
1) What is the technology/ What does it do?
A Podcast is a recorded video show that contains a series of pragrammes. Audience can subscribe via podcasting websistes (e.g. http://www.podbean.com/) or iTune and can get the latest version through RSS and iTune reminder. The content of podcast covers various areas. We focus on EFL/ESL here.
2) Why is this particular tool or technology relevant to language learning? What approaches to language learning or research underpin the use of this technology?
Basicly, for learners, they are good resources for listening and speaking. By listening I mean learners subscribe a quilifed podcast and listen to it regularly. There are even transcripts of listening texts available to check learners' understanding. By speaking, I mean students can make a podcast. Although that could be a big challenge, it worths doing because of the necessary process of searching, editing and producing contents themsevles.
For teachers, there is pedagogical disucssion where teachers in ELT voice themselves pointed to a topic. For example, ELTchat podcast in iTunes. This podcast contains the lastest news of ELT areas based on twice weekly twitter chat.
When it comes to language learning approach, I think it belongs to task-based learning when they make podcasts. They are given the task of producing content with L2. In detail, the task could be tell a joke or give an interview or others.
3) How might you use it to foster language learning in class/outside class?
In terms of subscribing podacsts, it is convenient to do so. Leanrners are not stricted to just choose 'fixed' textbook materials. It is up to them to select the topic they want to listen to. Some of podcasts are quite nice actually, because they provide relaxed music as the background, learners could feel easy, which benefits learning outcome.
As for making a podcast, I would say that podcast is really a brilliant tool for students to be engaged in a real context speaking activities, specially for EFL students for three reasons. Firstly, as long as the production podcast is a complex task, there requires group work so that students are automatially connected with each other to do language task. Although, it is inevitable that they will use L1 as a mediation tool to do meaning negotiation. Secondly, the content of podcast varies from interviews, stories, jokes or even commentaries on a hot topic. Students are provided a real context, which is for the aim of podcasting, instead of being told to do so according to the textbook. Finally, whatever topics they do, it needs the skills of synthesizing, which is a higher oreder skills of using language.
4) What limitations can you see with the use of this technology?
Due to the large number of podcasts on-line, it is easy that learners could be lost. In the meanwhile, the quality of podcasts needs to be rethought. Even though the content is nice, the voice is not attractive enough (e.g. with flat intonation), learners could still get bored. Additionally, when producing a podcast, there is a risk that leanrners just read their prepared transcript in stead of speaking. In that case, speaking skill is hardly trained which is one of the skills that EFL students need to improve. We should also think about the feedback. Students could lose motivation if their piece does not be reviewed by potential social audience.
After my lenthy promoation of podcasts, you must be quite curious to see my effort on that! Right? haha, Hope you are still with me..