Learning English with Podcasts

About a month ago, I started listening to the Immigration Tales podcast. The show features interviews with people who came to the United States as immigrants. The program is produced by Cuban American Vitor Cajiao, who came from Cuba at age 11. The first episode tells his story. Since then, he has interviewed people from El Salvadore, Montenegro, Poland, and England. Each talks about his or her experience, life in the old country, the process of coming to the United States, and the sometimes difficult adaptation to American life.

Statue of LibertyIt occurred to me that many of our English Language Learner (ELL) students are probably immigrants. They may be able to relate to some of these people. Because most of the guests on the podcast are non-native English speakers, their language may be easier for our students to understand. Their use of idioms and colloquialisms is kept to a minimum, and they tend to be more consistent in their application of grammar.

Several applications of this resource came to mind:

  • Students could listen to the podcasts, discuss some of the challenges faced by the guests, and relate the stories to their own experiences.
  • Students could volunteer — either individually or collectively — to be guests on the show. The podcast is actively seeking guests for future shows.
  • Students could use simple, inexpensive recording devices to record their own stories, borrowing the concept of the show for their own use. This could be burned to audio CD to share with families or published as a podcast.

It’s definitely a resource that could help these students work on their English while also addressing some of the social challenges they’re facing. I sent a CD with the first couple episodes to some of our ELL teachers last week. We’ll see what happens….

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Author: John Schinker

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