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TEFL Masterclass – Using Podcasts in the EFL Classroom

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Gabriel Clark – Academic Director & Content Creator @Clark and Miller.

With almost two decades dedicated to teaching English as a Foreign Language, Gabriel brings a wealth of expertise to the field. His teaching journey spans various contexts, and he possesses a rich background in Teacher Training and Professional Development. Outside the classroom, Gabriel is the driving force behind a thriving blog, website, and podcast specifically tailored for English Learners.

What you will learn

During this workshop, we’re going to look at podcasts to use in your lessons and I’m going to outline a number of different exercises you can use with your students.

First, we’re going to take a look at some ESL-specific podcasts and how we can transform them into lessons.

After that, we’ll be delving into how to exploit non-ESL-specific podcasts and how we can take advantage of the messy “real-world” features in them, as well as taking the opportunity to extract key chunks from the texts.

Finally, I’m going to recommend some ESL-specific podcasts for students to get into in their own time.

Workshop Summary

Harnessing Podcasts in ESL Teaching

Podcasts emerge as a dynamic tool for ESL teaching, enabling educators to directly apply practical lessons that engage students across various learning levels. The strategy encompasses exploring ESL-specific podcasts for foundational listening and comprehension enhancement, broadening to general ESL podcast exercises for diversified learning, and employing non-ESL podcasts to elevate advanced listening and vocabulary skills. Furthermore, recommendations for student-led exploration outside the classroom aim to enrich the overall learning experience, suggesting a holistic approach to integrating podcasts into language education.

Innovative ESL Podcasts for Engaging Lessons

Three exemplary ESL podcasts are highlighted for their unique contributions to language learning. “Los Idiom Video Mania” offers a compelling approach to idiomatic expressions through thematic discussions, while “Happy English Podcast” captivates with its lively exploration of grammar and vocabulary. “Easy Stories in English” combines vocabulary introduction with storytelling, catering to a wide range of proficiency levels and fostering peer-to-peer teaching through shared narratives. These podcasts not only serve as effective educational tools but also encourage active student participation and personal connection to the content.

Contemporary Podcasts for Modern Learning

The exploration of contemporary podcasts like “Conversations with Kate” and “Better at English” reveals a modern and reflective approach to language learning, covering topics from FOMO to the MeToo movement. These podcasts provide insights into diverse experiences and motivations, offering long-form content suitable for advanced learners and those seeking depth in their language studies. The variety and relevance of topics discussed make these podcasts particularly appealing for integrating current issues and perspectives into ESL education.

Traditional Methodologies and Real-World Content

Employing traditional teaching methodologies alongside podcasts allows for a comprehensive enhancement of listening skills. Activities designed around podcast transcripts engage students in both content and linguistic analysis, fostering a deeper connection to the material. Moreover, the use of non-ESL content for “chunking” exercises—such as exploring specific vocabulary related to interests like sailing—exposes students to real-world language use, including various accents and natural speech patterns. This approach not only improves listening skills but also broadens students’ linguistic and cultural understanding.

The Value of Podcasts in Language Learning

Podcasts offer significant advantages over conventional listening exercises, providing language learners with access to specialised vocabulary and authentic contexts. Their popularity, accessibility, and alignment with modern learning preferences position podcasts as a preferred medium for language acquisition. By integrating podcasts into both classroom settings and personal study routines, educators can offer students a more engaging, relevant, and effective learning experience, bridging the gap between formal education and real-world application.

A Comprehensive Resource for ESL Educators

This guide presents ESL educators with a structured framework for incorporating podcasts into their teaching repertoire, including six detailed lesson plans, two exercises for raising awareness about linguistic diversity and listening challenges, and a selection of 11 podcast recommendations. By leveraging these resources, teachers can significantly enhance the English listening skills of their students, making learning more interactive, enjoyable, and aligned with contemporary linguistic and cultural landscapes.

Reflective Questions

Have a quick think about the reflective questions below in order to get the most out of the workshop:

  1. How do you use podcasts in your class?
  2. What other ways can you think of to exploit podcasts in the classroom?

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