This is the first in a series of items about how existing podcasts can be used to supplement classroom instruction in various subject areas. One of the natural applications that comes to mind is in the area of foreign language. In many cases, we teach foreign language in an immersive environment. The German teachers exclusively use German in their classes. Sometimes, students become very frustrated with this approach, but it does help them learn to use and understand the language.
It is potentially helpful for students to hear native speakers of languages, or at least different, fluent speakers of foreign languages. This is where podcasts can come in.
Consider PIEcast. Created by the Partners in Excellence, a language-learning project in Scotland, this podcast offers language learners opportunities to practice the language they’re learning in interesting ways. There are Spanish, German, and French versions of the podcast.
Larry Keim is a middle school Spanish teacher in Mesa, Arizona. He created the Rolling Rs video podcast to help students learn Spanish. He has produced 16 episodes since the beginning of the year. InstaSpanish is an interactive weekly podcast which includes listening comprehension exercises and grammar lessons for students of all levels. Recent episodes have covered slang terms, listening comprehension, and differences between verb tenses. Spanish Arriba is a weekly audio podcast to help Spanish language learners.
There are several podcasts to help with learning German. Speaken Sie Deutsch is one. Let’s Speak German is another. My German Class is a video podcast. German Poems is a podcast that focuses on classical German poetry from the likes of Goethe, Schiller and Heine.
JapanesePod101 is a daily podcast to help Japanese language learners. The goal of the project is to make learning and speaking Japanese easy and fun. The program emphasizes situational Japanese, so listeners learn which forms to use in different situations. Learn Japanese is another place to learn about Japanese culture and language.
Chinese linguistics expert Serge Melnyk offers free and easy Mandarin lessons on his podcast.
What if the foreign language is English? There are also a lot of resources available for English language learners, too.
Disclaimer: Not being fluent in these languages, I haven’t actually listened to these podcasts. It really wouldn’t do me a lot of good if I did. But teachers of these languages may find some valuable resources in these links.