Serial Podcast for ESL Students: Happy Times all ’round

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Serial podcast for ESL students
Using the Serial Podcast for ESL Students

If you teach very high-level students, consider using the Serial podcast. Although it’s a wee bit old, it’s still just as addictive! My students loved it. And I’m all about using authentic materials whenever possible, except with low-level, or mixed level classes.

Serial: I Hope You’ve Heard of It

Last year, my serious addiction was the Serial Podcast. If you haven’t heard of it, you are perhaps not really living on planet Earth and you should definitely check it out, but be ready to binge listen because it’s crazy addictive. I personally lost some sleep, waiting for episode 10 which was a week late due to American Thanksgiving and had to start listening to podcasts about Serial (Slate Serial Spoiler) in order to get my fix. In other happy news, another season is coming out soon-ish, which I’m really looking forward to.

Using the Serial Podcast for ESL Students

When it came time to decide on something to study with my three, reasonably advanced and motivated students I decided to use the Serial Podcast. I wasn’t sure if it would be too difficult for them or not, but with a combination of the transcript (Episode 1 Serial Transcript) and the Podcast itself, they seemed to understand most of it. They were pretty stellar at making little notes of things to ask me as well, especially with the slang and cultural stuff that they couldn’t find in their dictionaries.

More Lesson Planning Ideas!

Results: Fabulous!

My students were hooked, right from the start and all their papers filled with various colors of highlighter and notes and translations of words into Korean. I seriously think that they’d studied 10+ hours in only the few days since I’d seen them last. Our discussion was really interesting and filled with insights about human nature and other good stuff like that. It was work that didn’t really seem like work and it made me feel happy to be a teacher.

Warning: Only High-Level Students

If you have high-level students, definitely consider the Serial Podcast. I can’t imagine anything more stressful or frustration for everyone than trying to use this with low or intermediate level students.

More Serial Transcripts:

Serial Episode 2 transcript
Serial Episode 3 transcript

Listen to Serial, Season 1 on YouTube

What do you Think?

Have your tried using Podcasts in your English classes before? How did it go? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.

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  1. Nina

    Awesome. I actually considered using this podcast when I listened to it last year I just couldn’t figure out how to find enough time to listen to it in class. Might consider og again.

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