Saturday, April 29, 2006


I have discovered podcasts. I know they've been around for a while, and I'd heard of them and may have even listened to a couple, but I've just found out how much variety is out there.

Yesterday on my commute I listened to a podcast about English language teaching, and the speaker (presenter? what do you call a podcasting person? A podcaster? A podder? A pod person?) read an email he'd got from a teacher in Thailand, who wanted advice about his classes. His classes all contained fifty students or so, met once a week, and he had 19 different classes.

The podcaster said something like, "Well, I don't work in a situation like that, but my first reaction is that it's hopeless. You can't expect to accomplish much, or even anything, with such large classes meeting so infrequently."

Then he went on to say that the maximum class size he taught himself was fifteen, and he had to get special permission when one extra student turned up and he had sixteen. He meets his students three times a week.

I almost fainted from envy.

Then I went into work and spent my first class having to yell to be heard over the voices of thirty-two students who don't want to learn. At one point I stared at my the class of giggling, gossiping students, who had apparently forgotten I was there, and thought to myself,

Fifteen students! Fifteen MOTIVATED students. What would I DO with them?

And suddenly I felt better, because I didn't have a clue what I'd do with them. I knew what to do with my lot, though.

"DICTATION!" I bellowed happily, and my students jumped and noticed my existence. Then they started hunting for pencils and paper. They love dictation, and I've been trying a new (to me) dictation method that works wonderfully for all kinds of things.

Today, instead of a work related podcast, I listened to some stories on my commute, downloaded from Miette's Bedtime Stories. She is a wonderful story reader, and has chosen some great stories. I particularly recommend this story, my favourite so far. It is short, and the sudden ending surprised me until I realized it didn't need to go any further. I had already constructed the rest of the story myself as I was listening. I think I'd have missed how perfectly this was done if I were reading it rather than listening.

I listened to two more stories on my way home. I think I have a new addiction.

Just now as I was typing a wave of tiredness swept over me so strongly I felt dizzy. I had more to write, but it is time for bed. I'll catch up over the weekend, maybe.


Anonymous said...

Well... I never taught more than about 15 students.

They learnt the language, by & large. But then, in a business or industrial context, they had to.

Radioactive Jam said...

I'm going to become addicted to podcasts. I just know it.

Robert said...

They're extremely addictive! And I'm scared now because I've been considering starting one of my own and I've discovered how easy it is to do (and for free, no less).

I'm just afraid to start one until I know I can commit to a regular schedule. iTunes is wonderful for podcasters since you can offer yours there for nothing.

kimananda said...

Note to self...never teach in Japan. In Portugal, London, or now in Denmark, I don't think I've ever had much more than 12 or so in a class, and usually the average is more like 5 or 6. Of course, I used to have classes of 30 in the US, but I honestly can't remember what I did...except loads of small group work. I admire that you can keep track of more students than that!