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Podcasting as project-based learning and its effect on the acquisition of linguistic and non-linguistic skills

Riccardo Amorati EMAIL logo , Elisabetta Ferrari and John Hajek

Abstract

This study explores the effectiveness of podcasting as an approach to project-based and experiential learning implemented in an intermediate Italian studies unit at an Australian university. In the project, students are asked to write and record a podcast script on a topic related to their experience as university students or to events concerning Italian culture or the Italian community in Australia. The podcasts are then used in class as learning material and some are also made available to an Australian Italian language radio service. The findings of our mixed-method study on students’ evaluation of the project show that the activity is effective in helping students develop, reflect on and gain more confidence in their L2 skills (particularly pronunciation), and it also fosters the acquisition of non-linguistic skills, such as time management, problem solving, interpersonal abilities and autonomy. The results offer some important insights for future implementations of the project and further confirm the benefits of project-based experiential learning, and of podcasting specifically, as a learning tool in language teaching.


Corresponding author: Riccardo Amorati, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, E-mail:

Appendix 1: Participants

Questionnaire respondents

Demographic variables Answers Freq. %
Gender Male 5 20.8%
Female 18 75%
Other 1 4.2%
Age 18–25 21 87.5%
Over 25 3 12.5%
L1 L1 English 19 79.2%
Other L1 5 20.8%
Other languages spoken Yes 7 29.2%
No 17 70.8%
Concurrent language study Yes 2 8.2%
No 22 91.8%
Student classification Domestic 20 83.3%
International 4 16.7%
Degree Bachelor of Arts 10 41.8%
Bachelor of Science 7 29.2%
Bachelor of Biomedicine 1 4.2%
Bachelor of Commerce 1 4.2%
Bachelor of Design 1 4.2%
Bachelor of Music 2 8.3%
Other 2 8.3%
Year level of Italian subject First year 4 16.7%
Second year 20 83.4%
Year of completion of the subject 2018 13 54.2%
2019 11 45.8%
Total 24 100%

Interview participants

Interviewee Gender Degree Year of enrolment Status
INT-1 Female Arts 2018 Graduate Diploma in Languages
INT-2 Female Science 2018 Diploma in Languages
INT-3 Female Commerce 2018 Diploma in Languages
INT-4 Female Biomedicine 2019 Minor
INT-5 Male Arts 2019 Major
INT-6 Female Science (Psychology) 2019 Breadth (non-Arts enrolment)
INT-7 Female Arts 2018 Diploma in Languages

Appendix 2: Survey questions that elicited qualitative data and interview guidelines

Selected survey questions

  1. What new skills did you learn or develop? – (qualitative comments)

  2. What did you like the most about the podcast project? – (qualitative comments)

  3. Did you encounter any problems when carrying out the tasks? – (qualitative comments)

  4. Can you think of any benefits that the project had for you? – (open-ended question)

  5. Can you think of any negative aspects of this project? Do you have any suggestions regarding how it can be improved? – (open-ended question)

  6. Think about the experience of listening to the podcasts made by other groups after the recordings. Did you like it? How did it make you feel? – (open-ended question)

  7. Do you have any additional comments that you would like to make about any aspect of the project? – (open-ended question)

Interview guidelines (selected questions)

  1. What was your experience of the podcast project?

  2. What did you like/did you not like about the activity?

  3. Did you encounter any problems when working on the script/recording the podcast?

  4. Did the podcast project help you develop any skills?

  5. Can you think of any benefit that the project had for you?

  6. Can you think of any negative aspects of this project? Do you have any suggestions regarding how it can be improved?

  7. Think about the experience of listening to the podcasts made by other groups after the recordings. Did you like it? Why? Why not?

  8. Do you have any additional comments that you would like to make about any aspect of the project?

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Received: 2021-05-10
Accepted: 2021-10-01
Published Online: 2022-06-09
Published in Print: 2022-05-25

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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