Hiroshima Studies in Language and Language Education Issue 15
2012-03-01 発行


Delivering Original English Learning Podcasts to Mobile Phones
In this paper, a classroom practice involving the delivery of Hiroshima University's English Podcast to student's mobile phones and the survey results are reported. The preceding reports by Enokida (2010, 2011) show that despite the benefits of podcasts to learners and instructors, some students find it "a bother" listening to them because an Internet-connected PC is required to download them. Mobile phones could give them easier access to podcasts by enabling them to download media files wirelessly, without a PC. Moreover, most students own a mobile phone and use it on a daily basis. The main objective of this research was to see if delivering podcasts to mobile phones is effective in alleviating students' technical hurdles of listening to podcasts.

The research was conducted in 2011 in two classes: "Communication IA" (n=25), a speaking class for the Faculty of Education, and "Communication IB" (n=47), a reading class for the Faculty of Law. CALL rooms were used as classrooms and WebCT as a learning management system. A special website was built with different skins for different types of platforms: feature phones, smartphones, and PCs. What device the visitor is accessing the website with, and which media format is the most suitable for it are automatically detected, and correct files are provided. Latest episodes from "Easy English Conversation" of Hiroshima University's English Podcast were used as materials. Students were given paper worksheets with dictation quizzes and a QR code on them, and instructed to download the audio files using their mobile phones, listen to them as many times as they like, and answer the quizzes by the time each lesson starts. In the "Communication IA" class the podcasts were used for speaking activities, while in the "Communication IIB" class they were mainly used for homework. Students of both classes were also required to listen to and summarize 2 episodes they chose from Hiroshima University's English Podcast. A questionnaire survey on English learning using podcasts was conducted at the end of the term.

The results of this classroom practice can be concluded as follows: while 69% of the students who listened to podcasts on their mobile phone highly rated the convenience of this learning style, some students complained about the limited usability and the poor sound quality of mobile phones, and others wondered why they had to use their mobile phones while other online materials were provided on PC-based WebCT. To enable students to access podcasts with ease and in the way they choose, using multi-platform services like YouTube could be a better solution.
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