Luckily for me, I discovered a solution to this problem in the form of podcasts almost a decade ago. I began with podcasts about my favorite subjects: travel and Harry Potter. I subscribed to “Travel with Rick Steves” and “Pottercast” at first, and quickly began growing my list of podcasts. Over the years, I have also subscribed to podcasts about the French language, about history (check out “Stuff You Missed in History Class”), about world events (I have too many favorite NPR podcasts to list them all), and about running.
I have used some of these podcasts in my classroom as an additional resource for my students. Learning about the French Revolution can be boring when reading about in French in a textbook, but can become more interesting and comprehensible when listening to two people talk about it while you walk the dog or drive home from school. In the same way, a poem assigned for memorization can become easier to memorize if there is an accompanying podcast that focuses on meaning and pronunciation. I have even asked students to create their own podcasts with the assistance of our digital language lab to model the style used in a podcast called “One Thing in a French Day” that we called “One Thing in an IB Day.”
Reflecting on these now makes me realize that I should perhaps bring some of these tools back again. All of my students could benefit from greater experience with presentational speaking, whether in French or in English. Additionally, because proper preparation for presentational speaking also includes presentational writing, students would gain practice with those skills as well.