April 2021 – As higher education has turned towards Zoom as a go-to learning platform, one upper-level Spanish course at Drew University has turned to another technological tool: the podcast.
María Turrero Garcia, assistant professor of Spanish, was spitballing ideas for future assessment options with her students when she mentioned the possibility of the students recording a podcast. The idea received the most positive feedback, and she ran with the idea.
This semester, her students have been recording podcasts as they discuss their own experiences with Spanish language variation; issues of identity, confidence, and insecurity regarding their own language use; comparing different dialects; and the role education plays in heritage language preservation.
“Students have responded amazingly well to this project,” she said.
“It’s been an absolute joy to hear them talking about their personal experiences, and I have been in awe of how insightful they are all semester.”
“The podcast is definitely a game-changer,” said Diane Velasco C’23, a Spanish and studio art double major planning on becoming a Spanish or ESL teacher.
“When you reach advanced-level classes there’s pressure to have the language down perfectly. To be able to breathe and just have fun conversing, even if you make a mistake, your podcast partners are there to provide insight, or at least some laughter!”
While recording a podcast for class is certainly a fun project, Turrero Garcia pointed to several ways the podcast lends itself to learning.
“They make strong connections between course content and their own experiences as language users and learners,” she said.
“They also expand their knowledge of current literature in the field; go beyond the theoretical and illustrate how the course material is highly applicable to the lives of language users; learn about dialects and varieties of Spanish; and practice their Spanish in a controlled-but-more-relaxed-than-a-classroom environment.”
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