I recently got an iPod (my first one!) and discovered the world of language learning podcasts. I’m amazed at how much is out there, free of charge and easily accessible. I love that with a few clicks, I can download dozens of new podcasts to listen to on the way to work so that my commute on the London Underground becomes extra language learning time, rather than half an hour of boredom and frustration.
I’m currently learning Brazilian Portuguese and the Brazilian Pod Class has been really helpful. There are now over 300 lessons ranging from Beginner to Advanced level. The lessons are normally dialogues recorded by native speakers and then broken down by the teacher, Marina Gomes, who explains the key vocabulary and grammar points. This is similar to the Linguaphone method (as far as I remember, anyway), but there isn’t too much ‘listen and repeat’ and the topics are generally well-chosen, introducing everyday vocabulary which learners can put into practise in real-life situations. A big plus is that the lessons are quite short (normally around 10 minutes long), so it’s easy to listen to a complete lesson.
Like all podcasts, it has its limitations. As useful as it is for hearing sounds pronounced properly and learning vocabulary in context, you obviously don’t get any feedback or opportunity for interaction, so it doesn’t replace language classes or face-to-face interaction. However, I find it really useful to listen to this podcast before I meet up with my Brazilian language exchange partner. It gets me into ‘Portuguese mode’ – having the sounds in my head makes it much easier for me to use the correct pronunciation when I speak – and I can also discuss the new vocab I’ve learned with her. All in all, a great language learning resource!