A tool for teaching English: Podcasts

Term Paper, 2009

38 Pages, Grade: Sehr gut



1 Introduction

2 What is a podcast?

3 The birth of podcasting

4 Types of podcast

5 Where do I find podcasts?

6 How to subscribe to podcasts?

7 How to listen to podcasts?

8 How to create podcasts
8.1 Equipment for podcasting
8.2 Recording
8.3 Making a podcast with Audacity
8.3.1 The Audacity Toolbar
8.4 Publishing and distributing podcasts
8.4.1 Personalizing the recording with ID3 Tags
8.4.2 How to distribute a podcast
8.5 Podcasts and copyright
8.5.1 Podsafe music
8.5.2 Published literature

9 Ideas for teaching and learning with podcasting
9.1 Lesson 1 – Cement and concrete
9.1.1 Lesson plan
9.1.2 The cement and concrete audio script
9.1.3 The cement and concrete vocabulary list
9.1.4 Worksheet 1
9.1.5 Worksheet 2
9.2 Lesson 2 – Burgenland
9.2.1 Lesson plan
9.2.2 The Burgenland audio script
9.2.3 The Burgenland vocabulary list
9.2.4 Worksheet 1
9.2.5 Worksheet 2

10 Personal experiences of teaching with podcasts

11 Benefits of using podcasts in the English lesson

12 Conclusion

13 Bibliography

14 Table of figures

1 Introduction

When I started teaching English, I required some time to prepare the lessons, because my own English education at school ended 20 years ago. So a lot had slipped my mind. For this reason I searched for some opportunities to repeat some vocabulary, grammar and to improve my communication skills.

Then I read an article about podcasting in E-media, an Austrian magazine for Internet, computer and multimedia. In this article, they explained the history and technology of podcasting and they also presented several websites, where you can find interesting podcasts to listen to.

What a podcast is and why it is becoming such a popular media, I will explain in the following chapters. In a few words a podcast is a web-based broadcast of audio or video content which is distributed over the Internet for downloading to a personal computer or a mobile device such as an mp3 player.

In the magazine they also introduced some podcasts for language learning, amongst other things the “English as a Second Language Podcast” (http://www.eslpod.com). Such podcasts are for anyone who wants to improve their English speaking and listening skills. Previously I had tried different textbooks and eLearnings with only little success. So I downloaded some podcast episodes onto my mp3 player and listened to them while running or sitting in the car. I found out that such educational podcasts are by far one of the best methods to enhance English skills. The benefits of podcasts are that you have the opportunity to hear and work with authentic material and this enables you to listen to native speakers. Therefore you will hear real spoken English which is used naturally. This new technology makes it possible for you to learn how to speak and understand English quickly and easily.

I am teaching apprentices who are training to be bricklayers and road maintenance workers. Most of the students do not like English because their knowledge of English is not very great and it is also difficult to find a way to motivate them. So I had the idea to use this technology, which helped me to enhance my English skills in the English lesson. I found out that integrating podcasts in language teaching is a useful tool to get the students interested and motivated.

I think a great motivating factor of working with podcasts is that they can use their personal media players or well-known mobile phones that are a part of their daily lives. So we teachers can use those mobile devices for integrating new technology into teaching and learning and this enables us to reach the trainees through a medium that is a part of their daily lives.

The goal of this thesis is to gain numerous techniques for integrating podcasts and podcasting into teaching and learning, especially in the subject English. This work is also written for colleagues who want to make a valuable contribution to teaching foreign languages and who have the courage to organize activities combined with innovative technology for our students. Within the pages of this paper, they will find everything they need to know to get started in podcasting. I would be glad, if others use this work or even expand it, so that an active exchange of ideas can take place.

At the beginning of this paper I am going to explain what a podcast is and why it is becoming such a popular medium. Next, the thesis gives a short historical overview, shows directories to browse for podcasts and how to create such an audio recording (software, hardware and recording equipment). Then various techniques for publishing and distributing podcasts are explored. The paper also presents free podcast hosting sites and gives tips about copyright law and how it applies to podcasting. Practical file management strategies, including using iTunes to organize audio files, are also discussed. After building a solid technical foundation, the thesis turns to the way in which podcasting can be used at school. This chapter introduces the reader to a variety of podcasting lessons that can motivate the students.

2 What is a podcast?

The word “Podcast” is a combination of the words “iPod” and “broadcast”. Podcasts are digital audio or video files, which are produced in a series. Simply, podcasting allows you to download digital media files onto your computer and mp3 player. Once you know which shows you like, you do not have to go looking for them. You have the benefit of being able to subscribe to your favourite podcasts via an RSS feed (which I will explain later). Once you have found a podcast you would like to listen to or to watch regularly, you can simple subscribe to the feed, by using software called “podcatcher” or “podcast aggregator” (such as Apple’s iTunes). These programs will automatically download the latest shows, and you can listen to them on your computer or portable music player. So no time is wasted visiting several websites to check out your favourite shows. The podcast simply comes to you.[1]

Many podcasts have basically normal contents. Everyday people talking about things that interest them with a bit of music mixed in. Others presenting the latest interesting news on a particular topic, interviews with interesting people, or recordings of interesting presentations.[2]

3 The birth of podcasting

Podcasts and podcasting were born early in the millennium. Podcasting developed because new web-based technology could distribute and provide access to audio files. Another reason was the boom of small personal devices for playing audio. The visual aspects came a little later.

“Early in 2004 the word “podcasting” was coined by Ben Hammersley writing in The Guardian, a UK-based newspaper: he used it to identify the emerging practice of portable listening to audio-blogs on the most popular and available audio player at the time: the iPod. In September 2004, the word “podcast” attracted only 24 hits on Google, but by 2005 The New Oxford American Dictionary recognized podcasting as the word of the year.”[3]

4 Types of podcast

There are three categories of podcast:

- Audio podcasts contain sound only.
- Video podcasts contain sound and visuals, such as moving and still pictures.
- Enhanced podcasts are an extended version of audio podcasts capable of displaying additional information such as still images, weblinks and chapter markers.

5 Where do I find podcasts?

You can find podcasts all over the Internet. Podcast directories are an essential tool for finding new podcasts. The most popular directory of podcasts is Apple’s iTunes Store. iTunes provides all of the functionality of finding, subscribing and downloading podcasts within the program itself. You can search for podcasts by name or genre (comedy, politics, film, education, and so on), and you can listen to shows right from the directory by simply clicking the name of the podcast.

Here are some directories to browse for podcasts:

iTunes: http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/

iTunes is free software for Windows and Macintosh and has a built-in podcast directory. After launching iTunes, click “iTunes Store” and choose “Podcasts“!

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Screenshot of Apple’s iTunes Store

Podcast Alley: http://www.podcastalley.com

The Podcast Alley website has cataloged over 56,000 podcasts and over 3.6 million individual episodes (available in February 2009).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: Screenshot of Podcast Alley

Educational Podcasting: http://recap.ltd.uk/podcasting

This UK directory lists podcasts for edu-cational use - ideal for teaching and learning activities with children and young people.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3: Screenshot of Educational Podcasting

Learn Out Loud: http://www.learnoutloud.com/Podcast-Directory

You can browse over 15,000 educational audio books, mp3 downloads, podcasts and videos.

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Figure 4: Screenshot of Learn Out Loud

6 How to subscribe to podcasts?

The easiest way to have podcasts automatically downloaded onto your computer is to use Apple’s iTunes software (free for Mac and Windows).

In the following explanation I will give the German terms in brackets to make it easier, if you work with the German release of iTunes.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 5: iTunes is Apple’s free software to find podcasts, to listen to and to list shows you create

You can get to this directory by:

- Open iTunes - is free for download from the Apple site www.apple.com/itunes/.
- Choose “iTunes Store” in the left-hand menu.
- Click on the “Podcasts” link from the list on the left.
- Choose “Video-Podcasts” or “Audio Podcasts” from the “Categories” list (“Kategorien”) on the left. This is the iTunes podcast directory. Here you can search for podcasts, see what is hot and new, and find shows based on topic or title.

When you find a podcast you are interested in, do the following:

- To find the education-related shows, just click on “Education” (“Bildung”) in the categories link on the left-hand side of the page.
- Click on a podcast and see a page, listing all of the episodes available in this podcast.
- You can double-click on a particular show to listen to it.
- Download the episode by clicking the “get episode” (“Episode holen”) button.
- When you download a podcast, it goes into the podcasts section of your iTunes.
- When you click in there, you will see the name of each podcast you have downloaded, with all the episodes of that podcast underneath it.
- If you want to get every new episode of a podcast when it comes out, just highlight the name of the podcast you want to subscribe to and then click the “Subscribe” (“Abonnieren”) button to add it to your iTunes list.
- Now you will get each new episode automatically downloaded to you, as they are released.

For more information on the complete uses of iTunes, see http://podcastingserver.tgm.ac.at/groups/schulpodcasting/weblog/0f875/

7 How to listen to podcasts?

You can listen to podcasts directly from

- iTunes on a computer or
- mobile devices.

iTunes works best with iPods because you just plug in the iPod and podcasts are automatically synchronized onto the device.

8 How to create podcasts

Here I provide a practical guide for producing podcasts. You can find technical aspects, such as the equipment required for recording, editing and publishing podcasts. It includes a section on copyright guidelines, if you are using material created by others.

8.1 Equipment for podcasting

You will need

- a computer with a sound card,
- a microphone and
- speakers.

Or instead of the microphone and speakers you can use a “headset” that includes both.

8.2 Recording

Several software packages are available for editing audio files. You do not need to buy expensive commercial software. You can use free, open-source software like “Audacity”. Audacity is free for download from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/.

Audacity lets the user import, record, and mix sounds. However, it does not have the ability to create mp3 files. So you need to download a small program, called “lame_enc.dll”, from the Internet and install it on your computer before you start using Audacity.

8.3 Making a podcast with Audacity

After you have installed Audacity successfully on your computer, follow these steps:

- Become familiar with the Audacity interface
- Start recording
- Listen
- Correct mistakes
- Add extra dialogue and sound tracks
- Save your podcast

8.3.1 The Audacity Toolbar

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Figure 6: Screenshot of Audacity

For more information on the complete uses of audacity, see http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/documentation/

8.4 Publishing and distributing podcasts

8.4.1 Personalizing the recording with ID3 Tags

ID3 Tags are the labels used to identify a podcast within the audio library in your media player. ID3 Tags contain information about podcasts such as the Track Number, Title, Artist and Album. The tags enable you to search your audio library and display the information when an audio track is playing. The tags are important for keeping an audio library well organized.

In Audacity, once a recording has been saved as an mp3 file, the dialogue box shown in Figure 8 will appear.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 7: Screenshot of an Audacity ID3 Tag editor

It is not essential to use all ID3 Tags. I recommend using Title and Artist to identify podcasts.

Title The Title of the episode of the podcast. If the podcast is one of a series, put the number in the title (for example Show #8).

Artist The person talking on the podcast.

Album Here you put your general theme.

Track Number This is used to keep a series of podcasts in order,
like the tracks on a CD.

Year The year of the recording.

Genre I suggest “Vocal” for educational podcasts.

Comments You can use this option to add any relevant information
about the podcast.


[1] Cf. Michael Geoghegan. Podcast Solutions. New York: Springer-Verlag, 2007, 5.

[2] Cf. Will Richardson. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, 2006, 112.

[3] Gilly Salmon. How to Create Podcasts for Education. Berkshire: Open University Press, 2008, 2.

Excerpt out of 38 pages


A tool for teaching English: Podcasts
Educational academy of the federation Steiermarks
Akademielehrgang Englisch
Sehr gut
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
2437 KB
english, podcasts, teaching English, methods to enhance English skills, improve English speaking, tools teaching English
Quote paper
Emil Müllner (Author), 2009, A tool for teaching English: Podcasts, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/179439


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