I had a few days off work this week, on doctor’s orders. So I had time to read. I have always enjoyed reading. I regard myself as lucky that, in my job, I read a variety of texts from fiction to non-fiction, books, magazines, on-line/hardcopy. Reading, in whatever format, can illuminate your life. It can help to develop your grasp of the English language, develop your ability to read for meaning, develop a better vocabulary so you can express yourself, to better comprehend issues and broaden your knowledge base. As part of my course many years ago, we all had to practise reading aloud to children. When I started teaching, I often finished my year 7 classes by reading a chapter from a novel (making a weekly serial). If I was in the library, I often found that the senior students would also listen in to our stories. It seems that most people like someone to read to them. Today there are all sorts of ways that allow you to listen to someone reading a story to you. One such way is to use a website called PodioBooks. I found this thanks to Daily English Activities post by Nik Peachy.
This site has a wide selection of recorded books, that are clear and very high quality. You can listen without having to download them or you can register on the site and get installments sent to you. There is an “adult” section so you need to keep that in mind if you are considering sending your students to the site. The number of title and authors is increasing but they are mostly American at the moment. There is a good FAQ page, a blog for updating information and a good guide if you want to create your own podiobook and share it.
We have recorded some of our teachers aides reading books for students who have particular literacy problems. We also have quite a few ESL students. I can think of a variety of ways teachers could use this tool. Students could do comparisons, about reading the hardcopy for yourself and listening to the podiocast.They could be used to develop listening skills, concentrate on the verbal descriptions and visualise elements from the stories or jot down feelings etc. whilst listening for further work later. The student could also develop their own reading skills by serializing a book as an audio version for themselves and sharing.
One book that I did know was the Wizard of Oz. Our senior (theatre studies) students studied the Wicked – The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz as part of their curriculum. Most students have seen the film “Wizard of Oz”, a few have read the original book, and the book Wickedby Gregory Maguire is not the easiest to get into. He has a quirky writing style. I think a great unit of work could be built up with these and other materials.
Downloading and sharing the files you get from Podiobooks.com is not illegal. In fact, it’s encouraged. Most of the audiobooks we offer here are made available via a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License, but be sure and check the media files of each. The idea, in general, is to spread the words, so start spreading!