As we settle into our post-holiday haze this year, many of us are tired. Dog-tired. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for taking their precious vacation for themselves and telling the little devil on their shoulder shouting to get more work done, “Not today.” Others of us are open to learning a bit, but aren’t quite ready to jump into online courses or conferences, or deep-diving into pedagogy books at the moment. That’s okay! As much as we tout the benefits of active learning, we also understand that maybe—just maybe—“sit & get” professional development (PD) can have its place, too.
Today, in the spirit of keeping things light, I’ll do a surface level look at the very deep world of podcasts, and share a few shows that are aimed directly at English language teachers to get you started.
While there’s wonderful PD out there through YouTube, conferences, social media, in-person trainings, and more, the true beauty of podcasts is that they can be listened to while otherwise occupied: morning walks, working out, daily commutes, shoveling snow, doing the dishes, or just about any other light (or depending on the snowfall, hard) activity. Many shows also include show-notes, so if you hear about something you really want to pursue, you can just click through and check it out when you’ve got time.
How to Listen
Most shows have a website that you can listen at, but the true beauty of a podcast is the ability to put it in your pocket. If you have an iPhone, I recommend you start by using your already installed Apple Podcasts app. For Android users, you can use the Google Podcasts app. Later, if you feel you want more control over your experience, you can use more sophisticated apps, like PocketCasts or Stitcher. Once you’re in, all you have to do is find a show you like, tap play, and start listening.
Are There TESOL-Related Podcasts?
Yes! There are teachers across the globe jumping behind microphones to share their enthusiasm, ideas, and learning for teaching ESOL! One of my favorite things is to listen to speakers with different perspectives, student demographics, or special interests giving their takes on what works in the classroom. Here I’ll share a few. You will undoubtedly find more as you begin exploring, and I hope you’ll share your discoveries with me, later, in return.
TTI is a great place to start as the shows are short and sweet: 15 minutes each, and to the point. They cover a wide variety of topics, such as whether we should teach grammar, understanding motivation, having students work in groups, and much more.
The TEFLology Podcast has an academic focus on TEFL, if the name didn’t give enough of a hint. The show is run by three TEFL professors in Japan and covers all sorts of topics across the field, including timely topics, like racism, labor unions, and queer inclusion, among the more traditional points, like pronunciation, vocabulary, and more. Cohosts Matthew, Matthew, and Robert also do a lot of work on the value of podcasting and PD, so if you find yourself into this very topic, this is a great place to go.
All Things ESL is probably the most professionally produced ESL podcast out there. If you’re a fan of public radio, this will feel like the show you’ve always been waiting for NPR to put out. Hannah Benson takes you on a well polished journey through the field of ESL, often focusing on the bigger picture experience of what it is to be an English learner or an English language teacher. Hannah has recently decided to put the show to the side, but there’s still a great backlog to explore.
Carol Salva is a powerhouse when it comes to supporting students and looking for ways to better empower them for success. In her podcast, she brings in all sorts of experts to talk about growth, learning, and student achievement. There’s always something to walk away with after each episode.
Tan Huynh is another teacher who gets so much done, I often wonder when he has time to sleep. His student-first approach is inspiring, and he’s always looking for ways to help teachers improve, or to make their lives easier.
My cohost would kill me if I didn’t mention our own show, focused specifically on the crossroads of edtech and ESOL. We focus on research-based practices, then explore tools and techniques that teachers can use to implement those practices in their classrooms. Alternating episodes are interview shows with people doing fun stuff with tech in the classroom. We keep things fairly casual so that the occasionally dry academic side doesn’t get in the way of the joy of teaching and working with students.
Some Closing Thoughts
Podcasts are labors of love, and podcasts made by teachers are usually done after the classroom doors close, the papers are graded, and the next lessons are planned. This makes it a challenge for many teachers to keep going, so you may find shows that are discontinued or irregular. But just because a show is old, doesn’t mean it’s out-of-date. Be free with your explorations of podcasts, and reach out to the hosts on twitter, or wherever they may be! If you’re the type of person who would listen to their show, you’re likely to be friends who just haven’t met yet!
Do you have any other shows you think your fellow English language teachers should check out? I’d love to know about more, so please feel free to share them in the comments below!