Interview With “Podcasts In English” Creators
Some time ago I came across Podcasts in English (pie) via Grammarmancomic.com, and posted a review of it here. Since then, new podcasts have been added – on topics from life in the land of Hello Kitty and kimonos (at level three) to teachers who wear different color uniforms depending on the day of the week (level two) to shopping in the Philippines (level one).
But what about the minds behind pie? I invited pie creators Richard Cain and Jackie McAvoy to drop by my email inbox and share their experience with pie and insight on podcasts in general.
I first asked Richard Cain about the challenges and rewards of maintaining a podcast sight like pie:
“My partner, Jackie McAvoy, and I were first told about podcasting by a friend of ours who runs a very successful site called www.notesfromSpain.com. He started doing podcasts and really got into it and he encouraged us to do the same. Once we understood what it was all about we were hooked. The initial challenge was to design a website that was easily understood by learners of English, and easy to use too. We looked at many sites beforehand and discussed what we liked or didn’t like about them; we really tried to consider how an English learner would view the site.The site then was designed from scratch and I had to learn new technologies such as password protection and CSS styling. Seeing our website up and running gives us a great thrill. We’ve been getting very positive reactions from people and have only made a few changes to the first design.
The on-going challenge, now we have designed the site, is to produce one podcast every week. Given that the podcasts are only 4 – 7 mins long that doesn’t sound so bad, but we have to interview people, edit the podcast and make sure the quality is good enough, produce the transcript, design worksheets, vocabulary worksheets and webquests – all this takes up considerable time, especially as both myself and Jackie have full time jobs. It’s exciting though that people from more than 100 countries – from Azerbaijan, Iran, Libya, Mongolia to Yemen – have accessed the site.”
I also wanted to know how their personal experiences had shaped their decision to create pie:
“The combination of technology, design and teaching really appealled to us as we have experience in all three areas. First, I already have a personal website (www.globalwanderings.co.uk) which has information and photos of my various travels. Website design has become a serious hobby and so I was interested from the technology/design perspective. Secondly, Jackie was a graphic designer before becoming a teacher and she already writes TEFL materials for the Macmillan teaching site www.onestopenglish.com. Thirdly, as we are both very experienced TEFL teachers we really wanted to have an opportunity to design activities and listenings/podcasts that we thought students would be interested in and could benefit from. It’s a challenge and a commitment, but still great fun!”
Read on for their take on the value of podcasts for both learners and teachers.