Podcasts are a great resource for English language teachers interested in professional development.

Teacher trainers on TESOL courses and by Directors of Studies can use podcasts as part of their CPD (Continuous Professional Development) programme for their teaching team.

What are Podcasts?

Podcasts are audio files, which can be uploaded to your phone, tablet, mp3 player, laptop or desktop computer and listened to at any time. They are basically radio programmes which can be listened to at home, at work, in the office, on public transport, in the car, in the gym, or while going for a walk or a run.

There are a number of podcasts available for English language teachers, for novice teaching and experienced professionals, and I will list a number of them in this post.

Some of them are only about teaching English while others deal with the broader fields of SLA (second language acquisition) and language teacher education.

7 Great Podcasts for English Language Teachers

The TEFL Show

This is a 30-minute podcast hosted by Marek Kiczkowiak and Robert McCaul, which deals with such issues as:

  • Teaching pronunciation
  • Taking the Diploma DELTA
  • Non-native English speaker teachers (NNESTs)
  • Teaching lexically

Style and Intended Listener: This is a podcast for more experienced teachers who are serious about the profession. The hosts are experienced teachers and trainers who discuss the topics in depth but always make sure they offer lots of practical tips and advice. There are some interesting guests too.

TEFL Training Institute

Ross Thornburn and Tracey Yu are the hosts of this podcast which deals with a range of issues including:

  • Career paths in teaching training
  • Reflective teaching
  • Learner and Teacher autonomy
  • Teaching listening

Style and Intended Listener:

Most episodes last for between 15 and 20 minutes, which means that topics are rarely dealt with in too much depth. However, this means the podcast provides an overview of the issues and the hosts (and frequent guests) keep things light and accessible.

The episodes on professional development and career options are particularly good, which makes the show useful listening for teachers looking to move into management or training roles.

TEFL

teaching

TEFL Commute

The hosts, Lindsay Clanfield, Shawn Wilden and James Taylor, are familiar names in the industry. This light-hearted show deals with issues not normally associated with English language teaching such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Stationary
  • Alphabets
  • Staffroom
  • Clothes

Style and Intended Listener:

The hosts describe the show as a podcast for language teachers that is not about teaching. However, teaching-related issues (and lots of anecdotes) are not avoided for long.

What makes this show different is that the hosts are irreverent and love discussing some of the more bizarre aspects of life and teaching. It’s a fun show and thought-provoking at times.

The TEFLology Podcast

The hosts of this podcast (Matthew Schaefer, Matthew Turner, Robert Lowe) all work at universities in Japan. The show features frequent guests, many of whom are academics) and this means the show deals with complex issues:

  • Global Englishes
  • Bilingual Education
  • Critical Issues in ELT textbooks
  • Teacher Identities and Gender in ELT

Style and Intended Listener:

This podcast is probably aimed at experienced teachers who are familiar with SLA (Second Language Acquisition) theory. It’s ideal for teachers studying advanced teaching qualifications, such as the Diploma DELTA or Trinity Diploma (Dip TESOL) or an MA in Applied Linguistics. That doesn’t mean it’s a difficult listen, just that the interviews and issues discussed are more appropriate for teachers interested in the history, approaches and methods of language education.

Language Learning and Teaching Podcasts

Tea with BVP

This podcast deals with SLA and language teaching and is hosted by Profesor of Spanish and stand-up comedian Bill Van Patten (the BVP of the title). It provides a blend of serious discussion about methods and approaches with lots of humour. The format is unusual as listeners call in with their questions. Topics discussed include:

  • What is fluency?
  • Is fossilization real?
  • The role of conscious knowledge in SLA
  • What are appropriate goals for language acquisition?

Style and Intended Listener:

This is another podcast aimed at more experienced teachers with an interest in SLA. The host has some strong views and is not afraid to share them; he is not a fan of coursebooks for example.

Some episodes are quite long and the host does go off on tangents, so it’s not ideal for listeners looking for concise summaries of teaching issues.

Language Fuel

This is a new podcast presented by a team of teachers from New Zealand. This is an interview show aimed at people who love learning and teaching languages, so some of the issues are not directly related to English language teachers. However, each episode provides lots of food for thought about language teaching issues:

  • Dictionaries: To use or not to use
  • Creating (pseudo) immersion techniques
  • Understanding BYOD (Bring your own devices)
  • Self-directed language learning

Style and Intended Listener:

This podcast looks at changes and new approaches to language learning and teaching, making it a good listen for experienced teachers and newer teachers interested in novel teaching ideas.

Many of the interviewees teach other languages rather than English, so this is a great podcast for teachers looking for inspiration and ideas from outside the traditional English teaching sector.

I will teach you a language

This final podcast is actually aimed at language learners rather than teachers. What makes it so useful is that it provides plenty of ideas for teachers looking to encourage learner autonomy. The host, a former teacher and polyglot Olly Richards, answers questions from listeners such as:

  • Do you use apps in language learning?
  • What are the benefits of monolingual flashcards?
  • Should I rely on Google translate?
  • Adapting the Memory Palace techniques

Style and Intended Listener:

Episodes are generally short (20mins) which makes it a good listen for commuters. The podcast takes language learning out of the classroom and deals with the possibilities of using digital technology, mind hacks, and cognitive learning techniques to learn languages.

English language teachers interested in using technology or with an interest in motivation, cognitive theory and learning strategies can benefit from listening to this show.

 

Ideas for Podcasts for English Language Teachers

I made a few podcasts episodes a few years ago and the technological side was fairly complicated. Nowadays anybody can make a decent sounding podcast for English language teachers. All you really need is a smartphone, dictaphone or USB microphone.

I’ve got a few ideas about possible shows:

  • Interviews with successful English language learners. Successful learners have so much to teach us about learning strategies, maintaining motivation, useful resources, and feedback on what worked and what didn’t work for them in the classroom.
  • Teacher training. Many teachers do not have time or funds to attend teacher development courses. Podcasts do not provide the interactive benefits of face-to-face training, but training-focused podcasts could be a cheap alternative.
  • Context-specific podcasts. What is it like to teach in China or Spain? A podcast related to local issues could be really useful for teachers planning to work in specific countries or teaching contexts.
  • Vox pop Interviews with teachers. Most podcasts book guests with something to promote or interesting research to publicise. What about interviews with teachers in the field?
  • Lesson recordings. I’m not sure anybody would want to listen to a whole lesson. However, lessons can be recorded easily and segments could be extracted for analysis by teachers. Lots of micro-teaching feedback.
What about you? What shows would interest you?

I’m sure I’ve missed out a number of great English teaching and language teaching podcasts. Please let me know about of your favourites and I can add them to the list.

 

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