Top Four English Language Podcasts

If you’re someone who takes knowing the difference between “your” and “you’re” seriously, if you experience a secret thrill when someone uses a semi-colon or an Oxford comma properly, or if you just want to know more, these podcasts could be for you. 

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Promo Top Five English Podcasts Plain

Pleasantly surprised by how popular last week’s post on my top five history podcasts proved to be, I decided to share a little more of my podcast-loving joy with you this week.

It’s common knowledge that I’m pretty nerdy about words.

I love them. I love the way they work. I love knowing where different words and phrases came from. I love using them to write and communicate ideas in interesting ways. I love knowing which words are related to each other, even when they don’t actually sound much like each other anymore, like long-lost cousins who bump into each other when they leave home to go to university, and discover their common history that the family has been hiding in the dust and cobwebs behind the skeleton in the closet.

So, it should come as no surprise that I enjoy listening to podcasts about the English language, its roots and evolution, and how it works.

If you’re someone who takes knowing the difference between “your” and “you’re” seriously, if you experience a secret thrill when someone uses a semi-colon or an Oxford comma properly, or if you just want to know more, these podcasts could be for you.

So, without further ado, here are my four favourite word-nerdy podcasts.

#1. The History of English.  This podcast gets into the down and dirty of where the English language and many of the words and phrases we use came from. If you suspect that Mr Webster didn’t just go out into a cabbage patch and find a newborn lexicon crying for its mother, give this podcast a try.
twitter: @englishhistpod
http://historyofenglishpodcast.com/

#2. Lingthusiasm. This podcast explores different aspects of the English language in just over 30 minutes for each episode. It’s interesting, word-nerdy, and fun.
twitter: @lingthusiasm
http://lingthusiasm.com/

#3. The Allusionist. This podcast focuses more on lexicon and how we use words to craft and deliver meaning in particular ways. The episodes are a bit shorter than the first two placegetters, staying under 20 minutes a shot.
twitter: @AllusionistShow
www.theallusionist.org

#4. The English We Speak. This podcast from the BBC World Service explores those words and phrases we use every day in episodes that last about three minutes each. This might be a good place “to cut your teeth” if you don’t want to “go the whole hog”.  You’re catching on. Cool.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/features/the-english-we-speak

 

I’d really appreciate it if you would leave a comment.
And click “like”.
And if you shared my post, that would be almost like Christmas.

Almost.

New horizons. 

I’m about to embark on an international classroom collaboration with my Year 10 History class and some students who attend the school where my cousin teaches in Detroit, USA.  Our students will discuss world events, their interests, and their perspectives on issues and challenges that they face as young people in an increasingly globalised world.  

This has not been done at my school before, so I am very aware of breaking new ground for my students and of my responsibility to  mentor them and protect them while flinging them out of the proverbial comfort zone of our classroom “nest”. The online classroom environment where this collaboration will take place will be monitored and moderated by myself and the American students’ teacher, who I’m sure shares my anxieties and my excitement as we embark on this experimental educational journey together. 

I’m excited because while these kids’ lives are worlds apart, they live in the same world and witness the same events from their own unique perspectives.  I’m excited about collaborating with another teacher and having our personal professional horizons broadened, too. 

My hope is that they will broaden their horizons and see things from different points of view while becoming more aware of what is happening in the world around them. 

Hopefully we will all be inspired as well as informed. 

Unexpected Resistance.

I started the term with great hopes of the digital classroom and online publishing changing the world for my students. I hoped that it would open up to them a new way of expressing themselves and responding to different challenges and ideas. I wanted it to feel more like learning and less like school.

Some have embraced the opportunities and are writing and blogging with style. Others have simply handed me the piles of papers that I have been accustomed to accepting. Is this their comfort zone, or is being encouraged to do things in a different way just too confronting?

I asked one young lady – a good student – why she had opted to give me paper rather than a URL. Her response? “That’s not the way English is meant to be!”

Wait. What have I missed? Aren’t English classes meant to be about powerful ideas and the ways in which they are communicated? Isn’t the power of imagery it’s ability to deliver meaning in an out-of-the-ordinary way? Isn’t the strength of punctuation it’s ability to direct the reader which way to read and understand someone else’s ideas, because there are myriad ways in which they could be presented?

I wonder if what is really behind this unexpected resistance is a lack of confidence. Perhaps my students are happy for me to read their work, but they don’t think it’s good enough for anyone else to read.
I really hope not.
These are all vibrant, bright young adults with different talents, interests and experiences. Each of them has a valuable perspective on the world around them.

Phase 2 of my brilliant plan is going to have to be encouragement. I will communicate to every student that their ideas and feelings and responses are valid and interesting. I will remind them that they are unique and valued. I will laugh with them, work with them and then remind them that the Internet is there, waiting for each of them to conquer it.

Here goes.
I think I am going to be exhausted.

Going digital in the classroom.

I’m about to try some new and exciting things with my senior high school English students.

We have already been using a virtual classroom on edmodo.com  to communicate with each other, post assignments and reminders, participate in quizzes and polls, and to turn in assignments.  This has been a great success – a student can lose a piece of paper but they are never so keen to lose their connection to the internet.

This year, we are going to advance to some more creative uses of online spaces and tools.

Rather than making posters that they will throw away, we’re going to try some online collaborative space.
We will be using PC apps like Twiddla, Popplet and Wallwisher, or iPad apps such as Popplet, Mindmeister and Idea Sketch where students can collaborate and present their ideas visually.

Of course, this is not intended to replace writing – essays, creative pieces, opinions, and the like… but to help students crystallise and organise their ideas as part of the creative and analytical processes.

They will also be challenged to use blogs on WordPress, tumblr or Pinterest instead of hard copy scrapbooks.  They will be encouraged to present their writing folios online, enabling others to read their work and be inspired by each others as authors, not just students submitting an assignment.

This isn’t just “going digital for the sake of going digital”.  I’m hoping that it will engage and interest them, not only in what they are doing individually but also in what their classmates are doing, too.  Wouldn’t it be great if they could inspire, encourage and help one another through collaboration and presentation?

We are not throwing conventional literacy out the window. Each student will be writing with pen and paper every week, developing their skills of creative and analytical thinking and writing, and responding to the ideas and challenges delivered by a range of texts.   My aim is to complement the conventional literacy skills of my students with creative, considered and directed engagement in the digital world.

It’s an amazing world that we live in. I know some teachers have to be dragged ‘kicking and screaming’ into the world of online resources and publishing, but I’m keen. I believe that my students and I are going to love it.