Using BBC Learning English Podcasts to develop university students' listening skills

Olena Davydenko


The emergence of podcasts in an English foreign language (EFL) setting is seen as a helpful aid to foreign language learning. Using podcasts might help improve language learning efficiency. This research addresses how podcasts can be an alternative means of improving English listening comprehension for university students. The study was carried out at Nizhyn Gogol State University, Ukraine, using quantitative and qualitative methods of analyzing data. To collect the data, research tools such as a questionnaire, initial and final testing, and observation were used. The procedure was introduced for a group of first-year students and implemented for six weeks. Special BBC Learning English podcast activities were designed and offered to the students. The main stages have been specified in the process of developing students' listening skills. In the pre-listening stage, students do preparation activities to prepare for the podcast using their background knowledge. The while-listening stage is aimed at listening for gist, listening for details, making inferences, and summarizing. In the post-listening stage, the listeners are taken beyond the podcast content and set tasks which contribute to integrating other language skills. Samples of activities which correspond to these three stages are provided. A balanced approach to choosing top-down or bottom-up processing within the stages improves the process of forming competencies in listening of first-year students. Hence, based on the positive results of this study, BBC Learning English podcasts with meaningful, appropriate, and interesting activities attract the students' attention, increase their motivation, and improve their listening comprehension.

Keywords: podcast, taxonomy, listening comprehension, bottom-up processing, top-down processing, prior knowledge, background information


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Olena Davydenko

The author holds a PhD in Education and is an Associate Professor of the Germanic Philology and EFL Teaching Methodology Department of Nizhyn Gogol State University. She is the author of more than 25 scientific publications and 3 course books. She participated in a joint project of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine and the British Council in Ukraine, 'New Generation School Teacher' in 2015-2019. She is a member of the public organization 'European Education and Science in Ukraine'. Her research interests are related to the issues of developing language skills in university students, boosting intercultural awareness in language learners, and teacher training for a new Ukrainian school.

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Davydenko, O. (2021). Using BBC Learning English Podcasts to develop university students' listening skills. e-mentor, 5(92), 26-35.