21st century skills in action. (a photo and tweet by @C_Hendrick)
Teaching is a lifelong learning process of finding out about new philosophies, new methods and strategies, learning from the experts, learning from colleagues, and also learning together with your students. Good teaching is not about knowing how to use a lot of educational apps and following the 21st century skills trend without truly questioning it, without realizing what a really meaningful learning is.
One of the most effective ways of using the Internet for learning about the world and for practising English both inside and outside the classroom is podcast. Listening to podcasts (on a daily basis) can be very useful for improving your listening and speaking skills. Podcasts give you the chance to listen to various accents and varieties of English, and also to listen to the topics you are really interested in. Almost all of the podcasts are free to download (you can upload them to your mp3 player, or just listen to the file on your computer too).
Podcasts that I enjoy listening to are not intended just for the English language learning. They cover many subjects from science to philosophy, art, social science, linguistics, etc., and they are for all the students/teachers who are curious and passionate about learning.
This is a list of my ten favourite podcast sites:
Latest (national and international) news stories, a lot of insights, intelligent analyses, big political stories with lively discussion and expert comments and analysis, the best new comedies, and a lot more can be found on BBC Radio 4.
If you have an inquisitive mind and thirst for knowledge you’ll enjoy fun and interesting podcasts on Radiolab. You can read on the site: Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.
Space Place Musings: Podcasts are for those who are fond of science and earth & space exploration.
Open Culture offers 100s of cultural and educational podcasts ready to load onto your iPod.
A Podcast about Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics is an excellent podcast site for English language teachers.
“The social world is a world we create, that we all have in common. In this series of illuminating podcasts, hear leading social scientists present their perspectives on how our social world is created, and how social science can help us understand people and how they behave. Each podcast includes a downloadable written transcript of the conversation.”
- Philosophy Bites – podcasts of top philosophers interviewed on bite-sized topics…
You can enjoy listening to Philosophy Bites interviews (podcasts) of excellent lecturers, and they are arranged by theme here.
New Statesman runs two weekly podcasts covering politics, policy and the arts.
This is ‘the world’s leading forum for debate and intelligent discussion. You can listen to most interesting discussions and enjoy in the company of some of the world’s sharpest minds and most exciting orators.”
I suggest using podcasts in the English language classroom: while discussing various topics that are relevant to your students you can learn with your students, too. You can get your students to do a project work, or debates/discussions on:
- the philosophy that planet Earth does not belong just to us humans, but to all species
- how to save the life on our beautiful planet, how to adapt to the impacts of global warming (with focus on environmental issues and the fact that developing countries generally have less capacity to adapt)
- how to fight against greed and hatred and ignorance
- how to encourage independent and rational thinking and fight against dogmatic, irrational beliefs
- how to deconstruct all of the messages we’re getting that are false, that may be racist, or sexist
- how to change our ideas about masculinity and femininity, how to fight against gender stereotypes, or cultural stereotypes, etc.
The most important of all is to teach our students how to have a skeptical look at the facts. They need to learn to question the truth of what they’re told by asking themselves: Can I prove it? Can I test it? Is it evidence-based? How accurate is it? Our students do have to learn logical thinking, the process of argument, the process of presenting facts, of proving their point of view; they need to learn that our first thoughts are very often not our best thoughts, that disagreement can be negotiated, and so on.
“Philosophy teaches its students to become thoughtful and reflective, and so to know themselves better. By so doing it opens them up to being careful about their own ideas and habits of thought. It is a matter of opening the questioning mind, taking charge of ideas, rather than being enslaved by them.” (Why there should be a philosophy GCSE, by Simon Blackburn, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge).
Listening to podcasts will bring a fresh impetus to our language learning/teaching. Also, hearing some intelligent discussions by great lecturers, their perceptive insights and interesting ideas can broaden our horizons, and even make us change some false beliefs. And, changing one’s opinions or strong beliefs is usually much more difficult than most of you think.
Thank you for reading the post. If you have any idea about how to use podcasts in the English language classroom, or if you have your favourite podcast site(s), please share in the comments.