Elsewhere: From Interview to Podcast

By Sabrina Völz

“Else­where” by Cas­sidy Coy

It’s nev­er too ear­ly to think about the next semes­ter. Per­haps you and your stu­dents would like to try your hand at pod­cast­ing. I have to admit that the first time around has its ups and downs, but after that it gets eas­i­er. Wiebke Fis­ch­er has already blogged on her expe­ri­ences cre­at­ing and writ­ing script­ed pod­casts as a tool for learn­ing Eng­lish. Build­ing on those sug­ges­tions, my stu­dents and I have con­tin­ued to exper­i­ment with the poten­tial of pod­cast­ing. In a project sem­i­nar, Leuphana Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents from var­i­ous majors came up with the idea to trans­form record­ed inter­views with Amer­i­can stu­dents study­ing in Lüneb­urg into 10–12 minute, theme-based pod­casts named Else­where. The first few are already online.

After many hours of research, I’ve come to the con­clu­sion that the vast major­i­ty of the most help­ful teach­ing tools for cre­at­ing pod­casts can be found online. So don’t waste your mon­ey on use­less how-to books.

Just as writ­ers of aca­d­e­m­ic texts need to know the ele­ments of good writ­ing, those mak­ing pod­casts need to become famil­iar with ele­ments of and steps to pod­cast­ing. Luck­i­ly, The New York Times has done most of the work for us. It’s almost “one-stop-shop­ping” at its best. In addi­tion to the steps men­tioned on NYT’s Project Audio: Teach­ing Stu­dents How to Pro­duce Their Own Pod­casts, I would def­i­nite­ly ana­lyze an entire pod­cast as a class and then have stu­dents pre­pare and give a short pre­sen­ta­tion on an episode from a pod­cast of their own choice. Again, oth­ers have done our work for us and com­piled lists of high qual­i­ty pod­casts with short descrip­tions: If I could make one rec­om­men­da­tion, it would be the episode from The Sug­ars – an advice col­umn by Cheryl and Steve Almond –  enti­tled, “Talk­ing About Priv­i­lege With Catrice M. Jack­son”  from Aug. 11, 2018.

The next aspect of pod­cast­ing not real­ly men­tioned on The New York Times page is inter­view­ing, espe­cial­ly lis­ten­ing tech­niques. Non-native speak­ers inter­view­ing native speak­ers can be tricky, espe­cial­ly if they do not know them well. Help­ful is the sec­tion, “The Art of Lis­ten­ing,” in Philip Gerard’s The Art of Cre­ative Research: A Field Guide for Writ­ers (2017). It is a book that your school or uni­ver­si­ty library should have. Then there’s Struc­tur­ing the Best Pod­cast Inter­view Ques­tions, a web­site that lists dif­fer­ent types of ques­tions and explains their pur­pose. What stu­dents will find out on that page is that they need to prac­tice, prac­tice, practice.

Final­ly, if you’re going to pub­lish the pod­casts online, don’t for­get to get the writ­ten per­mis­sion of all par­ties involved and use roy­al­ty free music, such as the tunes found on Pur­ple Plan­et.

Authen­tic project-based approach­es to lan­guage learn­ing can inspire stu­dents, espe­cial­ly dig­i­tal natives. Let’s meet stu­dents where they are.


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