Podcasts As A Tool To Boost Student Autonomy In A Second Language Classroom

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Podcasts can be an effective tool for promoting learner autonomy and self-efficacy in a second language classroom. It gives the students the freedom to tackle any topic they feel excited about, and to collaborate with other students. Podcasts cover a wide range of topics, including news, culture, entertainment, and language learning. This diversity makes it possible for learners to choose podcasts that interest them, which can motivate them to listen and learn more actively.

Podcasts provide learners with authentic listening materials that can help them develop their listening comprehension skills. They offer a great exposure to different accents, speeds, and vocabulary in context, making it an effective way to improve a learner’s ability to understand spoken language.

Flexibility is also one big benefit: Podcasts can be accessed anytime, anywhere, making it an excellent tool for independent learning. Learners can listen to podcasts on their own time and at their own pace, which allows them to work on their language skills without the constraints of a traditional classroom setting, and if your students feel fond of a podcaster, it won’t feel like homework anymore!

Podcasts can be an excellent source of new vocabulary. Learners can hear new words used in context, and with repeated exposure, they can develop a deeper understanding of how the language is used.

It is also authentic: Podcasts offer learners an opportunity to hear authentic language use, including colloquial language and expressions that are often not found in textbooks, literary books, or traditional language learning materials. This exposure can help learners become more confident and comfortable with the language they are learning. Also, they’ll be expose to current lingo.

Here are some suggestions for using podcasts in the classroom:

Encourage students to listen to podcasts on their own time: 

By assigning podcasts as homework and encouraging students to listen to them outside of class, you can help students take control of their own learning and build their self-efficacy.

Offer a variety of podcasts

To cater to the different interests and learning styles of your students, consider offering a variety of podcasts on different topics and at different levels of difficulty. You can consider surveying your students beforehand, or to just have a browse session as a warmup where students can discover new podcasts. As a classroom is already a diverse environment, you might discover that some students already listen to podcasts, which can help with the acclimatization of other students. Have them publish which podcast have caught their attention on a class Padlet so that everyone can see and listen for themselves.

Use podcasts as a starting point for class discussion

After students have listened to a podcast, you can use it as a starting point for class discussion. This can help students to reflect on what they have learned, to share their thoughts and ideas, and to build their confidence in speaking the target language. You can also slot some questions to snowball discussions. 

Encourage students to create their own podcasts

It always comes down to what students can create after learning something new. By giving students the opportunity to create their own podcasts, you can help them to take ownership of their learning and to build their self-efficacy. This could involve having students record themselves talking about a topic they have learned about or their opinions on a current event. Hobbies are a good opening into the world of podcasting.

Assess student listening skills

By incorporating listening comprehension questions related to the podcasts into exams or assignments, you can assess students’ listening skills and help them to see the value of their efforts.

By using podcasts in these ways, you can help your students to become more autonomous and self-efficacious in their second language learning.

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