Academic journal article The English Teacher

ESL Learners' Perception and Attitudes towards the Use of Podcast in Developing Listening Skills

Academic journal article The English Teacher

ESL Learners' Perception and Attitudes towards the Use of Podcast in Developing Listening Skills

Article excerpt

Introduction

Communication competence involves mainly four skills: reading, writing speaking, and listening. Among the skills, listening in learning a foreign and second language has not been given much attention in spite of being the most needed ability in everyday communication. Without precise understanding of the spoken message, successful communication cannot be achieved. Like other language skills such as reading, writing and speaking, listening can be learned systematically. In earlier times, a trait of part of learning and teaching listening was to use professionally produced newscasts, radio, and/or TV programs. With new computer technologies and Internet resources such as podcast, English language learners are now able to learn various skills of English Language. Podcasting is considered one of the novel forms of audio and video materials which offer language learners many opportunities to practice language skills, especially in listening comprehension. Some research studies have already acknowledged its potentiality and have documented much evidence that podcasts can greatly accelerate learners' speaking and listening skills. This small scale pilot study was conducted to examine ESL students' perceptions of and attitudes towards the use of podcasts for developing listening skills. It further examined whether students had the pre-requisite skills to ensure the smooth and effective integration of podcasts in learning listening.

Defining Podcast

The word "podcast" is taken from two words: iPod and broadcast (Rosell-Aguilar, 2007). Podcasts are both audio and video files on the Net which are usually uploaded at regular intervals. Chan, Chen and Dopel (2011) defined podcast as a media stream consisting of audio and/or video and PDF files. Listeners can download their favourite podcast and transfer it to devices such as MP3 player, iPod and mobile phone (Kaplan-Leiserson, 2005; cited in Rosell-Aguilar, 2007). iTunes is considered as one of the best podcatchers software. Listeners do not need to visit every website frequently for new podcast episodes; they can now find a huge collection of podcasts from the iTunes store (Rosell-Aguilar, 2007). There are many types of podcasts such as television podcasts, radio podcasts, classroom podcasts, and individual or group podcasts. Television and radio news are existing programs turned into podcasts such as those created by Voice of America (VOA) available at http://learningenglish.voanews.com/. Individual or group podcasts are podcasts designed for multiple purposes such as those developed by the website at http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/. Besides giving tips on English grammar, this website offers podcasts on various topics such as health, education, laws, food, and technology.

Purpose of the Study

Podcast has been used as a tool in various educational modes, e.g. blended learning (Dudeney & Hockly, 2007), independent learning (Bull & Reid, 2004) and collaborative learning (Hine, Rentoul, & Specht, 2004). Many academic institutions, including Duke University, Harvard University, MIT, and Stanford University, have already offered course materials via audio/video podcasts (Sorrentino, 2008). Podcasts have been used as supplemental resource (Bongey, Cizadlo & Kalnbach, 2006) and to support textbook materials (Stanley, 2005). Language learning has been recognized as one of the fields about to get help from the rapid growth in podcasting (Rosell-Aguilar, 2007). A few researchers have documented that podcast promotes second language learning, develops various skills of English language such as pronunciation (Ducate & Lomicka (2009), vocabulary (Putman & Kingsley (2012) and grammar (Istanto, 2011). Other literature on podcast comes not from research journals, but from magazine articles, conference proceedings which are concerned with technical issues of creating and subscribing podcasts. Despite its significance to the academic success of ESL learners, research studies on podcast and L2 listening comprehension in academic contexts at tertiary level is scant. …

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