A podcast (/pɒdkæst/) 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 format of the downloaded file.
If things don't seem to be functioning as you expect, right-click your mouse, left-click on "save link as" and then select a download destination. The file should go where you want it.
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
- All Guardian podcasts
- Economist multimedia
- Search BBC audio and video This BBC site is recommended - though downloading may de difficult. See out article "BBC" for more information on useful BBC sites for teachers.
- All BBC podcasts
- Reuters videocasts. Very good for short news clips.
- 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.
- Altvista audio search Quite good.
- Play Audio video A promising audio and video search engine.
- Find sounds Not really an an audio search site - but one which will find sound effects.
- A good list of multimedia search engines
- Another list
Podcasts for English teachers
There are three very good sites which offer free, topical English-teaching podcasts along with exercises. Two which offer news-based podcasts are Breaking News English and Heads Up English. Languagecaster is a weekly, football-themed podcast. Teachers looking for easy-to-use, up-to-date audio should check them out.
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.
One can do something similar by going to Youtube.
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.
Podcasts for students
There are also many podcasts which will be of interest to students. See our Podcasts for students article for more information.
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.