Friday, November 11, 2011

PFL ... Podcasts for language learning

The HS PFL has embarked on a podcasting journey in the past few weeks which has focused on listening, writing and speaking skills. 

Their podcasts provide such relevant material for a real audience! 

As the students are foreign, the podcasts are about how they see the Brazilian culture compared to their own. Their podcasts are very interesting reference material for other foreigners and also for Brazilians to understand their culture from a different point of view.

This is the process that the students went through to create the podcasts:

# Learned about the podcasting style.
# Prepared a script.
# Recorded the podcast with music loops.
# Embedded their podcast as an mp3 player on their classroom site.

The next steps will involve exploring those podcasts with real audience feedback. Students will listen to each other's podcasts and make comments, generate discussions. For next semester, we may try a real podcasting subscription that will allow automatic feeds to iTunes that could be listened to and discussed by other PFL classes... and who knows what else!

To prepare the students, Laureana worked the style and also listening comprehension skills though a real podcast site about the Brazilian culture called Café Brasil by Luciano Pires. Students were able to listen to "radio-like" podcasts where music and rhythm play an important role to attract the audience. This style was picked up by the students who mimicked a real radio program.

Aviary was chosen as the application for audio recording and music loop editing. This application is now part of our Google Apps, so it is conveniently linked to our logins. Another advantage is its accessibility, as it is online and can be accessed everywhere, with no need for special software. Laureana was brave enough to agree on trying this tool in a HS classroom for the first time. There were some glitches concerning browser compatibility at times and uploading. Tips to help with such glitches will be explained soon in this blog.

Wrapping up the project so far, we have decided that next time students will be given the choice of online audio editing with Aviary and also computer based recording with Audacity, making it clear which are the benefits and drawbacks of each one. Laureana is also planning a "raising awareness" exercise with the students so they can reflect and appreciate their learning through this process. Some students were able to clearly articulate that writing the script was a difficult exercise for them and that voice recording practiced their fluency and pronunciation.

 I am excited to listen to the finalized podcasts and check the student web pages with comments.  Stay tuned and I will follow up this project on this blog!

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