FOREIGN LANGUAGES TEACHING IN A POCKET SIZE

Podcasts revolutionizes the teaching of foreign languages with almost or totally free digital courses.

Marina Díez is from Madrid and a consultant, while Ben Curtis comes from London and arrived in Spain eight years ago and he has made translation works. None of them is a language teacher, nevertheless, in May 2005 they began to offer free Spanish courses on their website of podcasts: www.notesfromspain.com. "We decided to teach Spanish starting from real bases and from the conversations of our daily life", explains Ben. Notesfromspain counts now about 10,000 weekly visitors from all of the world and the only source of income comes from the sale of the classes and exercises transcriptions (it cost less than five euros).

But, what is exactly a podcast? It's a multimedia file that is distributed by subscription (paid or unpaid) over the Internet using syndication feeds, for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. Though podcasters' web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of their content.

"Podcasts plays more and more an important role in the education of languages". Ken Carroll does not have doubts. This English professor in Shanghai from the nineties bet on these new digital language schools and decided to invest his more than 20 years of experience in teaching Mandarin Chinese through podcasts. "Podcast is a new type of means to which another message or method corresponds. It will be the future in the languages world", concludes he enthusiastic.

The detractors of this education system remember that to learn a language it is necessary to practice it and to talk with natives as it has always happened in the traditional language schools. Nevertheless, these same schools, even the great public centers, like Goethe-Institut, have begun to take advantage of channels podcasts with didactic purposes.

Furthermore to English, Chinese or Spanish, it is possible to study Japanese, French, German, Italian, Arab, hindi, and even native languages of Africa and America. So, if you want and have a MP3, the language courses can begin already tomorrow.

El País