Souncloud for Podcasting in the EFL/ESL Classroom

Before I start talking about Podcasting, do you really know what is a podcast? Just googling around you can find thousands of definitions but the best is the one from the iTunes website that says:

Podcasts are episodes of a program available on the Internet. Podcasts are usually original audio or video recordings, but can also be recorded broadcasts of a television or radio program, a lecture, a performance, or other event.Podcasts usually offer each episode in the same file format, such as audio or video, so that subscribers can enjoy the program the same way each time. Some podcasts, such as language courses, include multiple file formats, such as video and documents, to teach more effectively.

There is no doubt that Podcasts are very popular and incredibly useful for our teaching purposes, Apple offers an application to manage them on every iOS device and it is a very important section on iTunes, they add:

For podcast listeners, podcasts are a way to enjoy great content from around the world for free. For podcast publishers, podcasts are a great way to reach a wide audience.

So, there is a great possibility to explore as teachers and language learners.

In this occasion I am going to show you one application that it’s great to create your own content, manage it and share it:

Soundcloud

It is one of the best social sound platforms and lets you to record, store and share your sound to the most popular social networks or your blog, your recordings can be listened by your followers, friends or the ones that you allow because you can manage your privacy.

To create your content you need to create a free account at www.soundcloud.com

After that  you can update your profile, it is very simple. Then press the button to upload your previously recorded file or create a new one.

Upload or Record

Wait for the recording to be processed, meanwhile you can add some descriptions.

Add descriptions

You can make it public or private and even use the Creative Commons Licence to protect your creation.

Protect your content

Once it is ready just press save. There you are! you created the first of many podcasts.

Your personal page

Using the Mobile app is even simpler, just tap record and follow the steps.

Mobile Android App

The result is something like this (press Play to hear):

The possibility of adding comments to a specific part of the recording can be very useful when using it with your students, you can provide accurate feedback and motivate them to make it even better the next time, increasing students motivation and engagement.

You can also suggest them to follow the most popular ESL/EFL podcasts in the application (web or mobile), interact with the authors of the content and generate a social network that will help them to be more confident and learn according to their interests. This can also be done on iTunes but without the possibility to add comments.

Popular Podcasts

If you can generate your own content as a teacher you can also improve your communications skills and get a huge audience, which means new possibilities of continuing your professional development. If you are thinking of podcasts it is a very interesting possibility.

On the dark side the free account just allows you to upload 3 hours of sound and if you need more space you will have to pay a monthly or annual fee. Another disadvantage is the time necessary to create the recording you want to share in your channel, sometimes it will be very difficult to find the right place and time to start recording, then editing and finally uploading your content, but once you master your abilities on it, you can reuse it anytime you want and just add some quick updates, so try not to give up and keep going on!

Sources: Souncloud – Apple iTunes

Gallery: Imgur

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Tricider – Online voting and decision making

Tricider is a great tool to engage your students in the decision-making of the class, this online survey system allows you to write an idea and then let your students collaborate adding new ones, giving instant feedback, adding pros and cons and finally make them part of the class. For example I can make a simple question like: “How can we use WhatsApp to teach Speaking?”

Tricider

As you can see new ideas can appear, students can provide pros and cons and vote for the best ones. You can invite your students to participate in this survey using Twitter, Facebook, Email or just adding the URL of the survey, like the one in the example: http://www.tricider.com/brainstorming/35eX1nhsdK7

Advantages for this kind of application are tons, but for me the most important is that you can empower your students making them part of the process of their own learner which can motivate them to want to learn more and also provides you with the feedback necessary to pay attention to the needs of your class. Although on the bad side of the story this is only a web application and can only work using a computer and an internet connection, there is no smart phone application yet.

If you want to see Tricider in action here is a short video:

And if you want to experiment and learn even more please go to Russell’s Teacher Training Videos, which guides you step by step. You will see that it is very simple. Don’t be afraid! You can do it!

Link: Tricider

Duolingo for Schools brings the language learning platform into the classroom

Duoling for schools

Duolingo has introduced a new platform designed specifically for use in schools that promises to make it easier for teachers to keep up with students’ language learning progress.

If you don’t know anything about Duolingo take a look at the following video:

Last year Duolingo Test Center was launched under the promise to certify the level of proficiency in the target language, and now the company behind one of the most popular language learning apps of the world is giving us Duolingo for Schools, which is the company’s first formal steps to work into the classroom.

In this way Duolingo is now present not only as quite simple and easy to use application to learn at your own on every a handheld device or your web-browser, but also as a companion system that will let teachers to track their students progress., helping them to highlight where a student is having more problems.

The words use by the company’s co-funderLuis von Ahn were:

“The goal is to provide a personalized learning experience that gives each student and instructor immediate feedback in the classroom. This can free up teachers’ time to concentrate on difficult concepts, answer questions, and assist students falling behind,”

With this new application the parent can also be involved in the process of learning of their children, participating in an active way allowing them to see the progress of every class and which lessons have been completed with specific and clear reports.

Duolingo continues to be an excellent option and the company is really concern of continue being the leader of the language learning mobile apps. The constant evolution of their products is also being tested by some governments and teacher around the globe.

For an excellent review of Duolingo follow this link:

http://suzannetechnojourney.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/vocabulary.html

Finally take a look at Duolingo for schools: https://schools.duolingo.com/