Friday, April 6, 2012

Build Vocabulary and Background Knowledge with Podcasts

In an earlier post about building vocabulary, we wrote that reading widely is the best way to build new vocabulary. Words encountered in context are more likely to become part of a person’s vocabulary. Seeing a word is generally preferable to simply hearing it. However, today’s students seem to have particularly packed schedules, and they may have difficulty squeezing in non-required reading. Thankfully, there are an increasing number of podcasts on the rise that can expose students to great language, and great ideas, on the go.

Some of our favorite podcasts, all available for free download via iTunes (as well as other providers), are listed below. The average high school student and many inquisitive, thoughtful middle school students should be able to benefit from them. Parents should be sure to preview episodes if they have concerns about the ideas or language used; although two of the three are broadcast on National Public Radio, their target audience is composed primarily of adults. All three offer fascinating discussion of relevant topics, and can be enjoyed while a student is washing dishes, going for a jog, cleaning his/her room, or commuting to and from school or a practice, rehearsal, or tutoring session.

Enriching, Entertaining Podcasts

A surprisingly entertaining podcast about science.

Weekly episodes share enriching stories about the week’s theme.

Stuff You Should Know
Provides investigation of fascinating, universal questions, like “Is it possible to control your dreams?”

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