Connect, Grow, Thrive

Podcasting and Professional Development: A Guide for English Language Teachers

Robert Lowe, Matthew Schaffer, and Matthew Turner

The Round (2017)

107 pages, Kindle edition

Podcasting and Professional Development is a booklet of () pages for teachers who are considering using podcasts for professional development. It is divided into four chapters: the first one tells the story of the writers’ association with podcasts; the second one is devoted to professional development of English teachers; the third one focuses on podcasting and professional development; and the final one is about setting up your own podcast.

I must admit that the topic interested me greatly because I had been listening to podcasts since 2008 and wanted to see what the authors thought they could do with them. The first chapter was, in fact, interesting from an anecdotal point of view, as I have memories in common with the writers of listening (and still listening) to the Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review podcast (page 6). Hence, in this long walk down memory lane, the writers do illustrate the importance and use of podcasts. 

We also learn that the writers, much inspired by the aforementioned podcast, went on to create their own podcast site called The TEFLology podcast (which is still running).  However, these personal stories, while enjoyable, do not blend well with the more academic sections of the booklet because they read more like an MA thesis that has been extended into its present commercial form.

This was obvious in the second chapter, where the reader is treated to a general overview of professional development in English language teaching which, unfortunately, satisfies neither academics nor laypeople. For instance, I did not expect to see the question ‘What is professional development’ on page 15, nor the question ‘Engaging in professional development through technology’ on page 17. Both questions were answered in an MA-academic-paper manner. Although the content is suitable for pre-service teachers and/or teachers new to technology, I doubt that this particular group would choose to read the booklet, which gives the impression that it is meant for advanced practitioners.

Chapter 3 addresses the topic of podcasting for professional development, yet it fails to move on to details. From page 28 onwards the writers finally provide relevant specifics about the world of EFL podcasting that might be applicable for use with language learners. Unfortunately, the writers revert to a more academic style on page 32, where they start discussing ideas of podcasting for professional development.

Chapter 4 resembles a ‘how to’ section, offering practical advice about making a podcast. It goes into great detail about various aspects of the process; for example, deciding what kind of microphone is most suitable in each recording situation. There is yet another turnaround in terms of style on page 48, where suitable topics for a podcast are discussed. On page 58 the writers return to the ‘how to’ mode to briefly answer the final, practical question of getting your podcast heard.

To sum up, although the topic of the booklet is interesting and the writers are experienced practitioners in the field, it is written in two different styles, the writers hoping to satisfy everyone -  from the novice to the experienced teacher/podcaster. In the end, the booklet doesn’t satisfy either group. Without the academic sections, this booklet would be a practical guide to podcasting for in-service teachers.

Timothy Black. MA TEFL

FMZ, Luzern