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Using Podcasts in Teaching English to IT students

17:56, 04-01-2022

In State University of Telecommunications, first- and second-year students have three classes (6 hours) of English a week. Not only does it enable them to develop language skills with great intensity, but it also gives the teachers creative freedom in terms of choosing materials for lessons. Learning English for professional communication relies on field-specific resources, so one of the most efficient methods here is exposure to foreign-language environment, in which texts are not adapted. In this article, we are going to discuss podcasts — a modern original medium that can be used for developing listening skills.

The main benefits of podcasts as a learning tool is their up-to-dateness. New episodes appear every week or even every day, which makes them considerably more efficient that any course-book recordings. Moreover, podcasts serve as a perfect springboard for discussion, which allows students to practise speaking. In addition, they contain useful vocabulary used by native speakers in real life. The podcasts we describe below have one more essential feature, which is duration. Most episodes are up to 10 minutes, so they can easily be used in class.

6 Minute English

This is probably the most popular resource, and thus, the first one on our list. The podcast covers a wide variety of topics, including those that can be interesting for IT students: e-commerce, teleworking, artificial intelligence, etc. Each episode teaches a number of lexical units, and the presenters explain their meaning in simple terms. At first, the guests of the podcast use this vocabulary in their spontaneous speech, and then the presenters analyse it. For instance, the episode named Is technology harmful to youngsters? (6 September 2021) contains the following lexis: digital native, savvy, designed for addiction, app blocker. Also, 6 Minute English offers plenty of useful and up-to-date general vocabulary, as well as idioms, which are essential for making our vocabulary rich, such as in the black/in the red, in a flash, bumps in the road, a wake-up call, shake one’s confidence and many others.

The Gaming Observer 

This podcast focuses on video games and stimulates vivid discussions among students since it is connected with learning and leisure at the same time! The Gaming Observer works best for B1-B2 students, but with a little bit of methodological effort, it can be used for lower levels as well. New episodes appear daily, dedicated to news in the gaming worlds, various selections and discussions. The presenter asks questions to his listeners, and they can send their answers to the mailbag. The most interesting answers are likely to be commented on in the next episodes. This way, students can communicate with the presenter by sending him their own messages, and they may even be quoted in the programme (although we haven’t tried that in class yet)! The podcast is also rich in useful lexis. For example, the episode named Games and Feelings (October 23, 2021) provides a whole range of adjectives and phrases for talking about games and sharing our impressions.

Computer Tutor

Tips from a computer expert from Florida, simple and understandable. This podcast is designed for people who don’t know much about technology, so it can hardly surprise the future IT and telecommunication professionals. However, the simple language is what makes it valuable, especially for first-year students, who are only beginning to learn computer terminology. Apart from this, it actually does reveal tricks very few people know about. For example, the episode named How to recover a Word document that was never saved (March 15, 2021) contains a secret that might save anyone from a total disaster.

Of course, this is not a full list, and you can find tons of podcasts online. We think that this is an excellent way to diversify English lessons. By using podcasts, we combine developing both listening and speaking skills, as well as improving our students’ vocabulary, including lexis for specific purposes. Due to their duration, podcasts can be ideally incorporated in our lessons and get students interested, so they can listen to more episodes at home.

By Anastasiia Kramar
English teacher
Chair of English

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