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Developing Students Listening And Speaking Skills Through ELT Podcasts

Introduction
The article discusses about the application of podcasting in teaching English as a second/ foreign language. It also covers: (a) how to locate ELT podcasts (b) the content of ELT podcast on the Web and how to use such resources for improving learning skills (c) the educational benefits of teacher podcasts and speaking activities for students podcast

Podcasting can offer language education, especially in developing students listening and speaking skills. Jobbings (2005) suggested 3 areas that podcasts can be beneficial in school: (i) devising cross-curricular activities (ii) providing alternative teaching approaches (iii) promoting and using personalized learning.

What is Podcasting?
Podcasts are audio (sometimes video) programs on the Web which are usually updated at regular intervals.

Types of Podcasts
Radio podcasts - existing radio programs turned into podcast. (e.g BBC- British Broadcasting Corporation and RTHK- Radio Television Hong Kong) Independent podcast - Web-based podcasts produced by individuals and organizations.

ELT Podcasting
ELT Podcast: Where to find them
General podcast directories - Podcast directory is a searchable database which is linked to site that house podcasts. - educational podcast directory (e.g http://epnweb.org/

Content of ELT Podcast:


Comprehensive Whole lesson Vocabulary and idioms Conversations with script Jokes Songs Phonetics and pronunciation Stories Listening comprehension

ELT Podcasting
First podcasts : early 2005 Where to find them? General podcasts directories can type in a search term like English, ELT, ESL, and TESOL. Directories of educational podcasts ELT Podcasts

Content of ELT Podcasts


A range of subject matter : Comprehensive traditional listening comprehension activities, interviews and vocabulary. Whole lessons a lesson plan with accompanying worksheet materials. Ready made lessons based on podcasts can be used in classroom directly. Vocabulary, idioms Conversations with script contains conversations between native speakers. Each episodes is accompanied by scripts, for listeners to refer to while listening to the conversation. Stories read aloud Listening comprehension Phonetics, pronunciation focus on specific phonemes and pronunciation problems in English.

Using ELT Podcasts to Enhance Students Listening and Speaking Skills


Can be used for intensive or extensive listening activities. But is particularly suited for extensive listening to motivate student interest in listening to English and providing them with exposure to native speakers speech. This will be able to bridge the gap between the formal English which dominates most second language classrooms and the informal English used in most real-life communication events.

Teacher podcasts Produced by teachers Allow teachers to reach to their students even after class times Supplement teachers classes for different purposes (students can listen to it several times, re-check lessons notes) Teacher can use podcasts to cover the basics without wasting classroom times. Student podcasts Produced by students a motivating activity Working in groups requires the use of English to negotiate, plan and create. With advancement of technology , it is easy for students to produce their own podcasts.

Benefits of Student Podcasts


Motivation Students produce their own podcasts can be accessed by anyone around the world if placed on the Web. Students can have real audience. Perfection through practice and rehearsal Through rehearsals and repetition, students can improve their pronunciation, stress and intonation. Teamwork Producing podcasts in groups they learn to collaborate with each other.

Improve students awareness to their pronunciation Podcast permanent record of oral performance. Students are inclined to be more aware of their pronunciation accuracy. Mixed-ability teaching Producing podcasts, provide every student with the opportunity to produce something that matches their ability level Effective in large-class teaching In large class, students can be asked to produce programs in groups; or they can be asked to produce their own individually at home. Teacher and classmates can listen afterwards. Increase confidence level Speaking in front of a large audience may caused some students to be uncomfortable. They will be able to be more comfortable working behind the scenes. Gradually, students will gain more confident after receiving good responses from teacher and friends.

Inter-school Podcasting Projects (across countries) Biggest motivation factor = students able to reach large audience through world wide web. Inter-school podcasting projects will enable their students to communicate and interact with people from all round the world.

Speaking Activities for Student Podcasts


Speaking activities that can be presented as podcasts:
Reading aloud Students give their thoughts on topic assigned by teacher Students listen to classmates thoughts and respond Oral diary; oral weekly report Group presentations on a completed project Oral book project Picture description Story telling Chained story telling Agony aunt: giving advice Creating riddles Role play debates Dramatic monologue Debates Radio drama Jazz chants ELT rap

Radio drama Used in developing students speaking skill especially with regard to pronunciation and intonation. Students will be able to work together and learn teamwork etiquette leadership skill, tolerate with other members and to take into consideration each and everyones ideas and opinions. Flexible: By modifying the script, the number of students who are involved can vary. Also, teacher radio drama activities can be organized to cater for mixed-ability groups and/ or classes.

Conclusion
Enhance second language learners listening and speaking skills. Easy access to podcasts posted online and students can engage in plenty of listening practice while travelling (MP3 and iPod). Allow students to reach a large group of audiences. Production of poscasts provides students with plenty of meaningful language use, which is highly desirable for second language acquisition. Suitable for students with low confidence level.