Podcasts are a wonderful resource for teachers and learners.
A podcast is an audio recording that can be downloaded or streamed and listened to on an MP3 player, computer, or mobile phone.
Podcasts are ideal for Business English teachers because:
- they can be used in class for listening practice
- they can be used as learning materials in flipped / blended courses
- they can be used to introduce and learn about specific business-related topics
- they deal with real-world topics, events and people
- they can provide a model of business tasks such as presentations, negotiations, interviews etc.
- they can be used to encourage learner autonomy.
There are 2 main types of podcasts suitable for Business English classes.
Podcasts aimed at Business English learners
Podcasts aimed at proficient English speakers.
In other words, some podcasts are designed for language learning and others can be used as part of a language learning programme.
Why might podcasts be more suitable than audio recordings from Business English coursebooks?
You may be thinking:
Why should I use podcasts when a BE coursebook provides me with enough listening material for my learners?
I have nothing against audio recordings in BE coursebooks but they date very quickly. For example, they may mention ‘Blackberries’ rather than ‘Iphones’ or ‘My Space’ rather than ‘Instagram’.
What’s great about podcasts is that they are quick and easy to record which means that new content is constantly being produced.
Here are 5 podcasts designed for Business English learners
Business English Pod – There are over 500 podcast episode (20-25 mins) about a range of topics and areas (presentations, negotiations, interviews, project management, human resources etc.).
Down to Business English – There are about 150 episodes (not sure if they are going to make anymore) in which the presenters discuss business news stories about real companies (20-25 mins).
Podcasts for Professionals – There are only a handful of episodes, which deal with specific work-related topics such as public relations and managing conflict. Ideal for classroom use (they’re very short – 5 mins) and come accompanied by a transcript, tasks, and discussion questions.
Workplace English Podcast – Nearly 100 episodes. Most episodes deal with a specific function/situation such as ‘Expressing agreement and disagreement’ or ‘Chairing a Business Meeting’ which means they are useful for providing a model for task-based lessons.15-20 mins long
Podcasts in English – This long-running podcast has lots of business English episodes. They are short and sweet (3-5 mins) and topic-based (electric cars, the 4-day week, cashless society). These podcasts could also be used in class.
Here are 5 podcasts for (more advanced) BE learners
World Business Report – This BBC World Service podcast deals with international business stories. Not ideal for the classroom (about 25 mins long) but ideal for BE learners who want to develop a regular listening habit.
Business Daily – Another BBC World Service podcast but this one digs deep (15-20 mins) into a specific topic (Insomnia and the Smartphone, Microworkers teaching robots). Great for BE teachers who flip their classes; they provide plenty of useful language and opportunities for discussions, tasks, and projects. I sometimes ask my learners to listen and then give a mini-presentation based on the episode.
Forum – 60 Second Idea to Change the World – My final BBC World Service podcast is not a business programme exactly but is a) short enough (5 mins) to be used in class and b) all about innovation and ‘thinking outside the box’. If you have entrepreneurial BE learners, this will be ideal for them as it encourages creative and critical thinking.
$100 MBA Show – This US podcast (10 mins) is ” is a new kind of podcast where you simply get better at business with our real business lessons from real entrepreneurs in the real world.” It’s full of useful advice for pre-service BE learners and in-service professionals. It’s another topic-based show and poses questions such as ‘How do your customers decide to buy’ and ‘3 simple ideas to improve customer service’.
TED Podcasts – You must have heard of TED (Technology, Education, Design) talks. Most people watch them online but they are also available as podcasts. They range from 5 – 25 minutes and they deal with every topic you can imagine. What they are particularly useful for is helping your BE learners develop presentation skills but they can be also used as the basis for discussions, tasks, and projects.