Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I was going to respond to Steve's comment in another comment, but I feel that it is much easier to do so in another post.

For those of you who may not have read his comment, Steve wrote, "I'd be curious in hearing more about why you feel 2-4 minute podcasts are ideal for foreign language instruction? How are you actually using the podcasts you've got posted on the class page?"

What great questions, and I never have addressed them in a blog, so here goes.

1.) 2-4 minute podcasts
Students get easily frustrated when they listen to authentic language - realia if you will - when they are used to their teachers' accent. I have found that if podcasts are much longer than this, students get very frustrated, listen one time through and do as much as they can. Most of the earlier podcasts are around 6 to 7 minutes long, and they have been less effective than those that I have created that are shorter. In 2-4 minutes, you can go through 2-3 different "types" of listening, and the students' attention is held because of the variety that they are hearing, and it isn't long enough for them to give up. They may still be frustrated, but they will stick it out (as a rule).
The exception, of course, if music. If a song is longer than 4 minutes, they will (generally) pay attention the whole time. It is less daunting than the spoken word, as it is often slower.

2.) My podcasts
Again, in a dream world, every student of mine would already have an iPod. Since I can't live in my dreams, my students upload the podcasts to their own, personal iPod. If they don't have an iPod, mp3 player or a computer on which to listen to the podcasts, I burn them a CD. I have had to do this on numerous occasions, but it is SO worth it.
How I use each podcast depends on what it is. Some of the podcasts are homework. For these, I allow the students a week to complete the assignment. On my class website, you will notice that there are two files under podcasting - podcasts and podcast worksheets. Each worksheet corresponds with a podcast. In order to get credit for the podcast, the student much turn in the worksheet as well. There is no point in copying off your friend - they get credit for turning in the worksheet and attempting it at all. These are not easy assignments, but the students really enjoy them.
Some podcasts are extra credit. My 8th graders - who are about a chapter ahead of their high school counterparts - created a telephone answering machine podcast. I posted for just the 8th graders for awhile, so they could show off their "mad French skills" to their families. When my high schoolers got to that chapter, I gave them the 8th grade podcast as extra credit. My 8th graders were THRILLED to have their podcast used in the high school. My high schoolers thought it was an easy 5 points and loved it. It was really great, and we are going to do it again soon.
Some of my podcasts are vocab helpers. Chapter 8 in our textbook is exceptionally vocab heavy, and it is really difficult to learn all of it. I created a podcast of just the vocab words. In this case, the students don't have to use the podcast, but many of my auditory learners did anyway, as it helped them study.

I hope I explained myself well. Please - feel free to ask me questions or give me feedback at any time - and often. My postings will reflect the comments I received, so keep 'em coming!

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Beyond Podcasting, iPods, iTunes, podcasting

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