Teach >> Articles

Topic: Making Podcasts
Peter Travis offers tips on creating podcast.
This is adapted from an article that first appeared in the ETP (English Teaching Professional) in November 2007.

Page 1: Your podcasting objectives
Page 2: Tools you need
Page 3: Getting started

If you read my introduction to podcasting in Issue 52 of ETp, you will have seen what an exciting addition this technology is to the language teacher’s portfolio of content and teaching tools. In this issue I’d like to show you how you can use the tools yourself and add to this pool of resources by becoming a podcaster.

Simpler than you think
Thanks to the emergence of many simple-to-use web services, podcasting is a lot simpler than you may think. Of course, the maxim ‘no pain, no gain’ applies to podcasting as it does to anything else in life. You’re not going to produce a fancy ‘radio show’ broadcast without a little bit of work. But if you’re looking for something new and exciting to do with your students this term, podcasting really is surprisingly simple. After dipping your toes in the water with the easy ‘One-minute’ podcast described below, you’ll hopefully be enthused enough to move onto the radio show format that follows.

In this article we’ll look at some questions you need to consider when planning a podcasting project, list the basic kit you’ll need and examine two sample projects you could try. Space doesn’t allow for step-by-step instructions on using podcasting tools, but links to tutorials are supplied below.

Your podcasting objectives
Irrespective of the type of podcast you set about making, there are a few basic questions you’ll need to address:

- Purpose? Is it to create listening materials for your students? Do you want your students to showcase their speaking skills? Or is the podcast for promotional purposes to showcase your school, college or department?

- Theme? A teacher-developed podcast might consist of recordings based on information taken from existing materials, such as handouts, assignment/task sheets
or study skills information. You could record this content, perhaps in the form of a conversation between two teachers or a teacher and a student asking questions.
Student-created podcasts can be used to increase motivation, help develop a sense of audience and offer the opportunity for self-expression. Your learners can podcast on general themes such as musical tastes, the experience of living in another country or advice on studying English.

- Audience? Are you happy for your own podcasts to be listened to by anyone in the world as well as your students? You certainly won’t be alone as there are many other language teachers out there doing just this. You should consider how you could promote your student podcasts. You could partner with a group of students in another country, add a link to your podcasts in your email signature or promote it through other student podcasts you come across. You can also submit your podcast RSS feed to podcast directories to increase awareness.

- Frequency? Teacher-developed podcasts will need to appear frequently if they are to become an established part of your course. If time permits, try publishing at least once a week. Your student podcasts are likely to be project-based and will require a fair amount of planning. Why not aim for one per month?

- Length? Yes, hour-long lectures can and are delivered as podcasts, but generally, long recordings should be avoided. People live busy lives and have short attention spans, so bite-size chunks, anything between three and 15 minutes, are ideal. Longer recordings should be broken down into separate sections and topics in order to create a little variety for the listener.

- Scripted versus spontaneous? For your early podcasting experiments, scripting your recording first will mean you’ll make fewer mistakes and will avoid the need for editing. The script can also double as a transcript for students. However, there’s a strong argument that the ‘live’ feel of semi-scripted or spontaneous recordings make them more interesting to listen to.

- Listening support? Will you be offering supplementary materials, such as
worksheets or questions, to guide the listener? These will be useful for any podcasts you record yourself which are aimed at developing your students’ listening skills

Page 1: Your podcasting objectives
Page 2: Tools you need
Page 3: Getting started