A podcast is an audio file which may be obtained on the internet.
You may well be able to use a podcast in class but you should be aware of any copyright issues if you do. Our article Copyright in English language teaching may help you to decide what action you are allowed to take in your particular jurisdiction.
Sometimes, when attempting to download a podcast you will find the download hijacked by a program such as "Quicktime". The solution is probably to look at your various file associations - but this can be time consuming. Another solution is to use a free program such as "downloadhelper" which will not only enable you to get around this problem, but may help you to obtain other difficult-to-download media as well. This only works with Firefox but it also allows you to automatically change the the format of the downloaded file.
Finding other podcasts
Finding podcasts with the content to match a particular lesson is not easy as they are harder to index then text. However you may have some luck with some of these news sites and search engines.
Specific news sites
- Guardian audio search This site from The Guardian is recommended.
- All Guardian podcasts
- Economist audio search This site from The Economist is quite good.
- Search BBC audio and video This BBC site is recommended - though downloading may de difficult.
- All BBC podcasts
- Reuters videocasts. Very good for short news clips.
- Reuters longer videocasts.
- Reuters audio podcasts.
- The Times of London podcasts
- The Sun Perhaps not the first place you would look, but also has a link to Sky news.
- CNN Audio and video search Mostly video.
- ABC news audio and video search
- The New York Times podcasts
- Financial Times podcasts
- All Bloomberg podcasts
- Voice of America podcasts Good site for presidential broadcasts with texts.
- Yahoo news - video and audio search Recommended.
- Altvista audio search Quite good.
- Podscope - claims to be able to search for spoken words Not convincing.
- Yahoo audio search
- Google podcast directories
- "All the web" audio search Seems to be out of date.
- Webpage - search audio with google For geeks?
- A good list of multimedia search engines
- Another list
Free English teaching podcasts
Finding video material is actually easier than finding audio material. The simplest method is simply to go to Google, enter a search term and select "video" in the top left. A tool such as "Orbit downloader" should let you obtain it as a .flv file. These files can be played with VLC media player. One problem with .flv files played in this way is that VLC frequently freezes when you want to move earlier and later in a ,Flv file.
A site such as FLV to MP3 Online Converter will let you convert the audio part of .flv to files to .mp3 on-line. Alternatively use downloadhelper which is a Firefox extension which will allow you to download and convert in one step.
Useful language podcasts
Playing back podcasts
When playing podcasts you will frequently want to to move to a particular point in the recording. The winamp media player allows you to specify the point at which you want to start playing by pressing "Ctrl J".
Using podcasts in class
See our article on creating your own listening activities.