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4 Ways Podcasts Will Power Up Your PD

by Ixchell Reyes, Sarah Hodge |

Imagine being able to have a seasoned educator as a secret companion on your next walk, during your commute, or while accomplishing chores. Podcasts are exactly that! They are accessible anywhere and any time, and you can find just about any topic curated, from perspectives on student engagement to fresh and creative ways to use technology. While many of us are familiar with podcasts for entertainment, there is a good argument to be made for podcasts as professional development. Here are four ways to take advantage of them:

1. On-the-Go Insights 

Educational podcasts are like portable mentors. Whether you’re commuting, taking a walk, or waiting for your next class, they’re there, ready to share insights. There is no need to wait until the next conference to grow. In fact, many podcasters usually make episodes of their takeaways from conferences they attended. This means you can learn even if you didn’t attend. 

2. Diverse Voices From the Classroom

English language educators, researchers, and experienced teachers gather around the virtual microphone. They discuss classroom strategies, learner motivation, and the art of teaching, from any part of the globe! This means you can connect to educators internationally and learn from their experience, and perhaps also reflect on how this impacts the students you currently teach from those regions.   

3. Beyond Lesson Tips

Podcasts invite you to explore rich discussions on topics like exploring intercultural communication, teaching multilingual learners, and nurturing language confidence. These virtual conversations also feature interviews with special guests, such as authors who might generously share their latest research, language acquisition theories, and classroom innovations. This means you can gain deeper knowledge in many areas of pedagogy.  

Here is a list of well-known shows to choose from, whether it’s a 10-minute segment to a full-hour episode: 

Cult of Pedagogy – with over 9 million downloads, Cult of Pedagogy focuses on classroom management, teaching strategies, education reform, and educational technology.

TESOLPop – A mini-podcast for busy teachers that includes short interviews on teaching, careers, and trends in English language teaching (ELT) that you can fit into your coffee break.

Thrive in ELT – Organizational coach and ESL instructor/academic coordinator Heather Johnston offers practical insights and action plans to get you thinking and moving forward on your ELT journey.

The Teaching Abroad Pod – Experienced English instructors share their knowledge of teaching internationally; they tell travel stories, share interviews with schools and fellow travelers, give job search advice, and more.

The Intentional TESOL – This show focuses on classroom management, teaching strategies, language acquisition theories, cultural considerations, and professional development.

The TESOL Spain Podcast – Though this show is recorded from Spain, it is one of the longer running podcasts that presents ELT issues via experts in the field from many nations.

The ESL Teaching Podcast  –  A place for K­–12 ELT professionals who are looking for simple and easy-to-implement ways to engage their students, this podcast provides inspiration and empowerment for your day-to-day teaching.

Teaching MLs  –  The goal of this podcast is to add to your toolkit to empower multilingual learners.

Larry Ferlazzo on BAM! Radio – Everyone’s favorite English learner, author, and teacher has his own podcast! Larry Ferlazzo interviews instructors from various backgrounds on relevant ELT topics.

VoicED Canada Radio – This is an entire online radio station devoted to playing only education-related podcasts. If you do not know where to begin, you can sample several shows in one sitting.

4. Boost Your Tech Skills by Starting Your Own ELT Podcast

Whether creating your own ELT podcast to share insights and activities with fellow educators or using student-created podcasts as a classroom activity, this is a great way to learn new skills and connect with listeners around the globe. The best part is that podcasting doesn’t require purchasing expensive equipment or software.

To start podcasting, you’ll need:

    • A podcast microphone. (A dynamic microphone works best. Entry-level podcast microphones can be purchased for under $100.)
    • Podcast editing software. (There are multiple free options, like Libsyn, Audacity, and WavePad.)
    • Podcast hosting (There are both paid and free hosting services.)

National Public Radio has put together an excellent guide on teaching podcasting; the lesson plan is accessible here, and a student page with example podcasts can be found here

What's your favorite ELT podcast? And how do you use podcasts in your professional learning or your teaching? Please share with us in the comments, below. 

About the author

Ixchell Reyes

Ixchell Reyes teaches English at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. DLIELC is the leader in English language training for the Department of Defense and builds security cooperation capability through English language training and cultural immersion. Reyes also cohosts the DIESOL Podcast, which focuses on developing innovation in ESOL. She’s been recognized for her innovative efforts by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) as an emerging leader, and by CATESOL as a Professional Development awardee. She previously taught at CSU San Bernardino, UC Riverside, and at the University of Southern California.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

About the author

Sarah Hodge

Sarah Hodge is a supervisory ESL instructor at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) English Language Center in San Antonio, Texas, USA. Since earning her MA TESOL in 2006, she has taught English as a foreign language, English for specific purposes, and English for academic purposes to thousands of international military officers, enlisted personnel, and civilians at DLI's resident campus as well as internationally. She has also developed curriculum, has conducted onboarding and teacher training, and was part of the Peer Coaching Initiative Working Group. A SMART Gold Ambassador and Lumio Certified Trainer, Sarah is passionate about integrating educational technology into the language classroom. Her research interests include bilingualism and language processing disorders.

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