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

Getting started
Let’s look at two possible ways to get started with podcasting. The first scenario requires no editing time, and the focus is on short, prepared, very simple recordings. The second scenario introduces the idea of editing and, although it will require a little more of your time, it’s still pretty straightforward.

Scenario 1: A One-minute podcast
Let’s imagine you want to produce a short, weekly or twice-weekly study tip for your students to reinforce topics covered in a writing skills course you’re running. You have a list of subjects, including things such as brainstorming, organising ideas, awareness of audience, paragraphing, writing topic sentences, etc. Each of these will be a separate podcast and will be very short – we’re talking one minute! They’ll also be semi-scripted, or even scripted, to allow you to plan carefully what you want to say and help you keep to the point.

Start by planning and (semi-) scripting your talk. Practise delivering it, making sure you keep to the one-minute time limit. Try to sound as up-beat as possible, using exaggerated intonation and sentence stress. It will feel odd at first, but monologues such as this can sound quite dull if you don’t inject them with a bit of enthusiasm. This is why podcasters tend to prefer an interview format. When you’re ready to record yourself, plug your microphone/headset into the PC or laptop. We’re going to use a piece of software in Windows called ‘Sound Recorder’. Click ‘Start’, ‘All Programs’, ‘Accessories’ and ‘Entertainment’ and select ‘Sound Recorder’. When you click the red button you’ll notice you only have one minute of recording time. You can play the recording back and re-record yourself as many times as you want. When you’ve finished you simply save the .wav file to a location on your computer.

Next you’ll need to sign up for an account on Podomatic to upload your file. A step-bystep crib sheet on creating a Podomatic account is available from the Splendid Speaking website (www.splendid-speaking.com). When creating your account, remember to give your Podomatic address a short, memorable name such as ‘englishwritingskills’. Search engines such as Google will very quickly find your new podcast and the closer the title is to the content, the more visits you’re likely to get. Add some text to accompany your podcast, including an introduction to the topic, and, if you scripted the podcast, perhaps a copy of the transcript for your listeners. When you click the ‘Upload’ button, Podomatic will convert the .wav file to an MP3 file for you, allowing your students to download it to play on their MP3 players. That’s it! Welcome to the world of podcasting! You can now send your students the weblink to the podcast. If they use iTunes or a web-based ‘podcatcher’ like Netvibes (see the Splendid Speaking website for more information on this), send them the link to the RSS feed which appears on your Podomatic page so that they can subscribe to future broadcasts.

Other possible projects that would lend themselves to teacher-developed podcasts include short anecdotes or daily news bulletins for listening practice or pre-session information and lesson summaries. Your students could make contributions with one-minute personal introductions, tips on studying English or advice for students planning to visit their country. The one-minute format is also ideal for students preparing ‘long turns’ for exams like IELTS, FCE and CAE.

Scenario 2: Radio show format
OK, you’ve tried the first approach and now have the podcasting bug – or have a littlemore time on your hands – and want to try something more ambitious. Essentially, the main difference between this and the previous scenario is the inclusion of editing software. You’ve decided to create a 12- to 15-minute podcast, featuring your students talking about food from their home country. One or two students will act as host, a couple will give a short talk on their chosen dish and others will be interviewed. You’ll also be using jingles to separate each section, which will help give your podcast the feel of a radio show. Again, you’ll need a Podomatic account with an appropriate name and time to prepare the talks and interviews. You’ll also need a copy of Audacity to edit your recordings. The main things you’ll need to learn will be how to delete sections of recordings that are not required and how to join tracks or recordings together to create your show. Audacity is very intuitive for these basic tasks and you’ll pick these skills up very quickly. How you organise the recording and editing will depend upon your situation. You could designate one PC as the development computer with everyone recording themselves at the one workstation. Alternatively, students might work from PCs in a self-access centre, each with Audacity installed and doing their own recording and editing. The individual recordings would then be assembled at the main workstation.

To create that ‘professional’ radio show you’ll need short jingles and one very popular site for these is Flashkit (www.flashkit.com). You’ll find a huge number of sound loops’ just a few seconds long and ideal for our purposes. Most of these are royalty-free, but always check any licensing details before including third party content in your podcasts. When you’ve finished, Audacity allows you to save your file in MP3 format, which you can then upload to your Podomatic account. Ideas for other projects of this nature are endless and could cover various topics such as book or film reviews, travel guides, debates and discussions. The focus might be on presentation skills, interactive communication between pairs of students or for areas of pronunciation your students wish to practise. And don’t forget to invite listeners to offer feedback through the comments feature of the podcast. I hope you find the time to experiment with podcasting and I’m sure your efforts will be
worthwhile. And don’t forget to tell the ELT community about your podcast when it’s published. We’re linking to podcasts from the Splendid Speaking website and would be more than happy to include yours. Happy podcasting!

Web links
An example of a simple single-file teaching podcast for students reading the set texts for
Cambridge FCE and CPE:
An example of short teacher and student presentations with an added quiz factor!
An example of a lovely student-generated radio-show podcast:
Let us know about your project when it’s ready:
Crib sheets, tutorials and links to help you with your podcasting projects:
Peter Travis is the co-founder of Flo-Joe, a website for Cambridge Exam preparation
(www.flo-joe.co.uk). He also manages the Splendid Speaking website (www.splendidspeaking.
com), which features podcasts of students participating in exam-style interviews.

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