Study Shows Radio is Relevant in ESL Education

More than one-third of ESL (English as a second language) educators use the radio to teach English during lessons, according to a new study.

Research by Kaplan International Colleges, a leading provider of English courses, revealed that 34% of surveyed ESL teachers have used the radio in class to help their students improve their knowledge and understanding of the English language.

It may come as a surprise to some that the radio is still relevant in the digital age but it is still an extremely cost-effective and portable tool for teaching, which is especially beneficial for those teaching in remote or poor regions where access to the internet is restricted.

Listening to the radio in class allows students to hear a wide-range of native speakers using English at conventional speeds with a variety of accents. Students can also discover new phrases and expressions while learning about other cultures and world events.

Ronnie Micallef, English Language Adviser Ethiopia at the British Council, said: “Despite the growth of digital media for ELT, there is still a great appetite for radio ELT in many parts of the world, especially in Africa where radio an important medium for education.”

“Radio education has a long history, provides valued educational opportunity for learners and reaches parts of the world which other technology such as internet and m-learning technology still cannot access.”

Kaplan surveyed more than 500 ESL teachers from 40 countries and found that the most popular broadcaster among those who used the radio in class was the BBC World Service (57%) followed by National Public Radio (17%) and Voice of America (10%).

The results of Kaplan’s “How to Teach English” survey have been published as an infographic. The infographic page has quotes covering all aspects of the research.

Other survey results include:

  • 86% of ESL Teachers have used music in class: The Beatles being the most popular band (used by 40% of those surveyed).
  • 81% have used English-speaking celebrities to engage students: Barack Obama being the most popular.
  • 76% have used Movies in class: The Harry Potter series being the most popular.
  • 75% have used Newspapers in class: The New York Times being the most popular.
  • 60% have used TV shows in class: Mr Bean being the most popular.
  • 33% have used Comics in class: Spider-Man being the most popular.
  • 24% have used Computer Games in class: The Sims being the most popular.

Kaplan surveyed 503 ESL teachers from: the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Russia, India, South Korea, Turkey, Georgia, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Greece, Vietnam, Spain, Cuba, France, Taiwan, Thailand, Azerbajan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Mexico, Iran, Ukraine, Jamaica, Malaysia, Romania, Poland, Argentina, Czech Republic, Latvia, Uganda, Malta, Singapore and Chile.

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