Using Podcasts to Teach Learning Strategies

Helping our adult learners become better students is one of the most important tasks that we are charged with as ABE teachers. For students with limited prior education or interrupted schooling, there can be significant gaps in their study skills, which can be barriers to independent learning.

Providing students with multiple opportunities to intentionally practice these skills is what the Learning Strategies category of the Transitions Integration Framework (TIF) is all about. Because it is important for students to practice skills such as making predictions, making use of background knowledge to understand new ideas and identifying main idea when reading and listening, a new resource has been added to the Learning Strategies section of the ACES resource library to help students develop these skills when listening to podcasts.

English as a Second Language Podcast

English as a Second Language Podcast was developed to help students learn English by listening to short, engaging conversations about high interest topics. English as a Second Language Podcast is run by a team of experienced ESL instructors and sponsored by the Center for Educational Development in CA. The speakers in the conversations speak at a slower speed that an ELL student can understand, and they use everyday phrases and expressions that are later explained by the podcast host.

The podcasts are organized by categories, such as travel, business, daily life, dining and entertainment. Each podcast conversation is approximately 1-2 minutes in length, and it is followed by an explanation of some of the key vocabulary and phrases. There is also a dialog script for each podcast, which makes it possible for students to listen and read or for teachers to easily create cloze activities.

For access to more comprehensive Learning Guides for each podcast, users can pay for a membership. A basic membership is $10 every 30 days and provides access to 12 Learning Guides each month. There is also a Premium Membership that allows users access to new Learning Guides plus over 800 previous Learning Guides.

Using the Podcast in Class

I have used this podcast in my Intermediate level Listening and Speaking class. I listened to the podcast ahead of time and prepared a short worksheet with questions that were focused on listening for specific information and details. Because the podcasts are structured as conversations, they also lend themselves to inference questions, such as “how does the man or woman feel about X?” I have a link to the podcast in my Schoology course, and after I introduced the students to using the podcast in class, I encouraged them to listen to other episodes at home or to subscribe through iTunes. It is my hope that by exposing my learners to free online resources like English as a Second Language Podcast, I am adding tools to their own independent learner toolkits.

Stephanie Sommers, ACES Coordinator ATLAS