ELL Dramatic Reading Podcast Lesson
by Elias Santiago

In my research I've come across many articles that spoke about the benefits of podcasting for English Language Learners. My reading has given me a lot of food for thought. Many of the ideas discussed in those articles offered general suggestions for how to effectively use a podcast as a learning tool for English Language Learners. For my contribution to this topic I would like to offer something specific.

One specific learning strategy is having the English Language Learner perform a dramatic reading in English. Student students will be given a specific high interest scene from a book / story. The length should be no more than a page or so. By having students read orally to convey meaning, “it is through the interpretive reading that students grow in their fluency and comprehension” (Vasinda & McLeod 2011 p.487). This is exactly how an English Language Learner can benefit from this strategy. Students will have to practice reading the scene to capture the appropriate mood and tone of the selection. This is where the podcast comes in. The interpretive reading of a selection in English will be digitally recorded via Audacity – a free web 2.0 audio editing application or GarageBand. Students will be given an oral reading / presentation rubric so that after they record their reading they may grade themselves. Students like this. They feel empowered. One of the advantages of recording your own voice is that it gives the reader a sense of audience. In this way the student can practice before s/he gives their dramatic reading before the class. The same rubric that they used to grade themselves will be used for their live presentation.

To study for this live presentation students could easily transfer their audio file to their iPods or mp3 players. In this way the “podcasts allow for a seamless integration of in-class and out-of-class activities” (Lacina 2008 par. 4). Student will be more likely to take their learning outside of the classroom. This is important because most English Language Learners are usually surrounded by people who speak the same language as they do. Another advantage this technique emphasizes is that it gives the English Language Learner a “heighten[ed] awareness of authentic speech and how it differs from formal written language” (Fox 2008, p. 5). For language acquisition, this is some powerful stuff.

One of the obstacles one could face in the implementation of this strategy is the availability of mp3 players or iPods. If students don't have their own digital audio music players, perhaps the school will be able to provide a set. If this is not an option, a student could easily upload their audio files to Google Docs and play the file from anywhere where there's a computer and an internet connection. In those cases where even that is not an option, the instructor could at least provide in-class practice in the computer lab.

The obvious language barrier shouldn't pose much of a problem because in my teaching environment it's rather easy to find another person who can translate. Also, with guided instructions from the teacher, the student will be able to work the necessary technology to implement this learning strategy.


Fox, A. (2008). Using podcasts in the EFL classroom. Tesl-Ej, 11(4),

Lacina, J. (2008). Learning English with iPods. Childhood Education, 84(4), 247-249. Retrieved from http://lesley.ezproxy.blackboard.com

Vasinda, S., & McLeod, J. (2011). Extending readers theatre: A powerful and purposeful match with podcasting. Reading Teacher, 64(7), 486-497.