The value for EFL learners seems clear, for example:
- Exposure to themed presentations and discussions on contemporary issues with an international flavour
- Building vocabulary
- Developing listening skills
- Dealing with a range of English accents
There are a few issues that prospective listeners to BBC World Service podcasts need to deal with:
- BBC iplayer - can be tempermental in my experience, doesn't seem to work on all browsers. Make sure you can resolve these issues before rolling out in the teaching session.
- Seven day availability - there is no archive! Podcasts are avaible for download, but for a seven day window only. I'm trying to build the habit of checking for content on a weekly basis.
- Selection - even though the podcast homepage is accessible, there is still the difficulty of choice to work through. Naming a genre, using a shortlist or setting a specific podcast could help; try running a review task of the whole index as a co-operative work; get learners to share favourites, descriptions, reviews, reasons, opinions - all this kind of stuff will be useful to build accessibility.
The Forum (45 mins) - an ideas discussion show with presenter and three speakers. I especially like the Sixty second idea to change the world item. For this, one of the featured speakers suggests a world changing idea - this will be somehow related to their talk. The presenter then leads a short exchange of opinions and ideas in response this with the other featured speakers. Listener interaction is encouraged via Twitter.
The whole thing is ripe for use in a teaching session, whether EFL or other. See this hacked out idea, 60 seconds: Change the World.
By no means have I investigated all of the World Service website or the content on offer, but recognize that this is a high quality resource to not only make use of in-session, but also to point EFL and other learners to and encourage their use of it. Do it!