Podcast dogLearning via a podcast is modern technology’s version of a language tape or CD. Advantages include portable learning – you can listen to a podcast whenever or wherever you like – and the range of podcasts available, a lot of them free.

This range has a downside, however. One of the great things about podcasts is that anyone with the right equipment can make one. But it’s also the big pitfall as the quality is not guaranteed.

You also need the ability to download and play the podcasts, which means investing in an MP3 player and some time at a computer. If you’re not tech-savvy, this could be a problem.

Another consideration is the need to actively listen. It’s too easy to put on headphones, hit play and drift off listening to the soothing tones of that lovely-sounding Frenchman. But you’re not going to learn by osmosis! So it may be beneficial to keep a notebook to go with the podcast and jot down times of sections you would like to go over again, as well as notes on what you understand and don’t.

Some good basic language podcasts for travellers can be found here. They’re free, and also include the script of the podcast in English although unfortunately only available for iPods at the moment. For listings of podcasts for various languages, check out this site.

Wendy from Nottingham has been following a Spanish podcast in preparation for her upcoming trip to South America:

It was difficult to find a suitable podcast as I wanted a Latin American Spanish one rather than a European one. Once I found this though, my skills have definitely improved! It’s great for speaking and listening practice, but I’m using a book also as I’d like to be able to recognise and read some of the basics also.