The word of pod

28th September 2007 at 01:00
Chatting in a foreign language with the help of a podcast increases students' ease and confidence, Stephen Manning discovers.

Perhaps the most obvious use of podcasts in the classroom is to study foreign languages, something that Neil Jones has been exploring with his A-level pupils. Neil, deputy headteacher at the Elliott School in Putney, south-west London, felt that it was the best approach for getting pupils acclimatised to conversation and listening in French, German and Spanish.

"We found that listening results at AS-level weren't the best and really needed improvement," says Neil, who is also a languages lead practitioner for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. "There were lots of factors, but an important one was lack of practice with vocabulary."

Pupils began experimenting with podcasts in October last year, initially as an audio magazine covering school events and showcasing work, and also school trips. From this, the idea developed of recording the school's three foreign language assistants French, German and Spanish talking on various topics, or being interviewed by Neil. Now these new recordings are made weekly and put on the school website, accompanied by a downloadable worksheet.

Neil borrowed the idea from a website called, in which a Spanish wife and her English husband chat about all sorts of topics. "It's a great website. The husband made a lot of mistakes, and was corrected, which the pupils liked."

Classroom technology in all forms still has to overcome its gimmicky status. Certainly, the bulk of gizmos in schools seem to be thrown at pupils well before A-level, the idea perhaps being that its main purpose is to grab their interest with something shiny and new.

Certainly, Neil agrees that motivation is the main point of the exercise the kids enjoy accessing the material in this way but argues that, for language learning, this "ears-on" approach will pay off over time. Langpod.html

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today