Monday, May 2, 2011

Using Podcasts in the Classroom

In light of recent political events - the death of Osama Bin Laden, the upcoming election year, the budget crisis- I've been thinking quite a bit about how difficult it must be for ELL's to filter through the news in the United States.  Surely, we know that every country has a diverse belief system, and much of our own knowledge and experiences with political systems can be transferred between languages and cultures, but the particular registry involved in political-speak must seem overwhelming for students trying to stay in touch with current political issues.

Take Seth Meyer's  recent remarks at the White House Correspondent's Dinner, for example.  Surely, this example is a combination of humor and political registry, but listen from the perspective of an ELL and you'll quickly realize how his comments sound like they come from an entirely new language in itself.

Knowing about how to listen to the news, and more importantly, how to identify viewpoints within our cultural-political context, will not only help students become more involved in their national community, but will also empower them with the ability to understand and enjoy a wide range of cultural references and intellectual discourse on the state of politics in the US.

That's why I'd love to use this podcast about Liberal and Conservative news from ESL Pod in my classroom.  As a collection, their podcasts are great because they take into account the annunciation and rate of speech ESL students can understand, documenting how much slow and fast dialogue the podcast includes.  I could have my students listen to the podcast, take notes, and then apply their knowledge by interpreting an actual news report as either liberal or conservative and presenting the report (a youtube video clip or otherwise) to the class with their explanation.  This would be a great way to integrate some content vocabulary into the classroom, promote critical thinking, and help students gain knowledge of some of the media sources they have available to them to stay informed.