Podcasting for ESL Teachers 101: How to Survive Your First Podcast

Hello, my dear educators!

You might be wondering: What happens backstage during an ELT podcast? and How can I join the ride as a teacher practitioner? It might seem overwhelming, but trust me, you can do it. Every educator is a performer by default; even if you fear public speaking, it won’t make any difference. Podcasts do not show your face; only your voice will be recorded.

This article will help you join in an episode as a guest educator (even if you’ve never done a podcast before, yes!)

This article will help you join in an episode as a guest educator (even if you’ve never done a podcast before, yes!) and make you feel like you know what you are doing! It is written in a friendly, informal tone because to feel accepted and to be able to express your opinion; you have to be among friends!

The tips you will find here are personal – they come from my experience and my own views of the podcasting world. You might disagree with some. You might love some. Either way, let me know down in the comments what you think! Let’s dive right into it!

Content guidelines for guests

Niche-down

Niching is one of the essential things people often fail to do, resulting in lower episode downloads and the number of plays. Even if you are a teacher, having a specialty you will explore is crucial because there are so many different kinds of teachers and subjects. For example, not focusing on ELT is generally good enough. The podcast Alice in Methodologyland started focuses on teaching young and very young learners through various methods, which is pretty niched down, and we know exactly who our audience might be.

Only discuss topics you are passionate about

Discussing things you are not passionate about and things you don’t have enough information about will result in lower credibility, and the listeners will feel that. The problem is that when listeners stop listening to a podcast mid-way, they will not return to your host’s website to listen to new episodes.

Prepare, but not overprepare

Preparation will be a breeze if you are already familiar with this method and topic. If you have some points you really want to discuss, send the questions to your host and mark them as necessary. Mind that sometimes the conversation will go in another direction, so there is no need to over-plan. Only concepts or keywords are enough. In the end, you are the guest expert, right?!

Choose a good title

Your final goal is for people to get interested in clicking that download button. This is why you need to shift your mind from teaching to marketing. People live hectic lives, and podcast episodes primarily get downloaded based on the title. Here is an example of a good title and a bad title:

A great title: VYL and Storytelling: Whole-child Development above Language Learning

Not so great title: Using Storytelling to Promote Whole-child Development and not Just Language Learning with VYL

Why is the second one not so great? It is way too long, not engaging, sounds very dry, not practical, it sounds like you will listen to a lecture rather than hear about theory and practice from an experienced practitioner. Keep it short, and engaging, lose any words that seem not necessary and make sure that almost every word is a keyword you would actually type in a search engine to look for ideas and tips. This is a way to see how can you really be helpful, by envisioning what your fellow educators might search for.

Give your host a short 3rd person biography from the perspective of the episode

A biography related to the podcast’s topic is crucial because it tells the listener that you know what you are talking about, so you are giving them a reason to listen. I wouldn’t like to listen about teaching VYL online from a teacher who doesn’t have experience in distance learning with this particular age, for example. The listeners will skim it, so make sure it’s concise.

Give your host a summary of the episode

The same goes for the summary – since you are the guest, you should write the outline (the host might do some editing). Again, you are the expert on a topic and should pose some questions, concepts, or ideas you want to chat about.

Get to know your host a bit

Explore the website and read up on your host because your guest session needs to cater to the host’s audience. Most of the audience will come from your host, so make sure to eavesdrop on at least 10 minutes of their previous podcasting recordings so you can explore their voice.

Try to solve a problem

Try to give your insight into a problem in the ELT world. It might seem benign, but your insight can be an eye-opener and create a spark in another teacher. Feeling heard and seeing that other educators have similar difficulties, ideas, or passions makes the listener feel connected, and it boosts our confidence. You are never alone, even if it might feel that way!

Share about your upcoming guest session on social media to build excitement

Sharing podcast promotional content and a link might seem pretty obvious, but it is very important, not just because of increasing the listeners. All links are tiny backlinks that help search engines rank the content and see it as valuable. Finally, some people might follow your work and be interested in listening to your session about a topic in ELT. You wouldn’t want to miss a chance to build your own audience as a guest expert!

No-sugarcoating

Be frank. There are many types of podcasts, and to be honest, sugarcoating is not something we educators like to listen to, especially without tight schedules. We want real people, real educators, with real problems, and real classrooms.

Be yourself

This tip is related to the ”no-sugarcoating” tip. Show your personality, and observe things from your teaching perspective. Why? Your character greatly impacts how you teach and what you teach. Even though the

Keep going

Making mistakes is human. If you make a mistake, what should you do? Keep going! This is the advice I’ve been giving my Nigerian IELTS students when I worked in their center. Just ignore the mistake, keep talking, and if you feel like you want to correct yourself, repeat casually. We are teachers, and we should never judge any teacher for making a mistake! 

Discuss the length of the episode with the host

I suggest keeping it to 30 minutes to make it digestible for the busy teaching schedule, but it’s all up to your host. Your host can signal you when it’s time to finish up or continue to another question.

No, your voice does not sound terrible

This is absolutely true. Here is the science behind why your voice sounds awful to you but normal to other people.

When you hear people talking, sound waves travel through the air and into your ears, vibrating your ear drums. Your brain then transforms those vibrations into sound.

However, when you’re the one talking, your vocal cords and airways also vibrate. That means that you receive two sources of sound: the sound waves that travel into your ears from your own voice, as well as vocal cord vibrations.

“When we talk, it’s like everyone hears the sound through speakers, but we’re hearing it through a cave complex inside our own heads,” says Martin Birchall, professor of laryngology (the study of the larynx, or voice box) at University College London. “The sound is going around our sinuses, all the empty spaces in our heads and the middle part of our ears, which changes the way we hear sounds compared to what other people hear.”

People perceive their own voice to be the combination of those two sources of sound, but everyone else just hears the external stimulus. This is why when you listen to your voice in a recording, it sounds different than the voice you’re used to. You’re hearing only the external stimulus, rather than the combination of the two sounds.

Source: time.com

A bonus opinionated tip: Don’t replay your podcasts

Yes, you know you don’t sound that terrible. Yes, listening to your own talk or watching your training might help self-reflection as a teacher. I never do that because I am a perfectionist and will always cling to parts I know I could have done better. My reflection comes in the form of writing ELT articles, and skipping the replay button helps me judge myself less. Instead, ask the listeners what they thought, especially if there was someone you know from the audience. Same as students forgetting our perfectly-planned activities. The listeners won’t remember your mistakes – they will remember your ideas and your personality.

Technical guidelines for guests

Mind your surroundings

Make sure you are in a quiet area with no open windows and inform your family members to be quiet during the podcast. Noise editing is extremely time-consuming and costly. In many cases, it cannot be edited out, not even by professionals (speaking from my husband’s experience as an audio engineer who composes, mixes, and does music masters.) Sometimes the noise is so intertwined that if you try to edit it, the audio loses quality, your voice becomes distorted, and other similar problems.

Mind your equipment

Headphones and a basic microphone can do the trick, but we suggest a separate microphone. Even the cheapest one is better than headphones commonly used with a mobile phone. Suppose your situation currently does not allow a separate microphone. In that case, you can inform the host, and they can highlight that at the beginning of the episode, and the listeners will be informed and feel grateful because you were polite to tell them. Also, not having perfect equipment should never stop you from voicing your opinion. The concept of ”affordable” varies from country to country, so we will not share any specific links or brand suggestions for purchasing a microphone.

Dont’s of podcasting

To make your first podcast a pleasant experience, please don’t:

Tell private jokes

If you know the host too well, refrain from telling private jokes because you will alienate the audience.

Join the session from a noisy area

We already discussed this in the technical guidelines, but one thing I left for this section is that joining from a noisy background is disrespectful to your host and will result in a not-so-happy podcast episode.

Overthink everything

Overthinking leads to anxiety, anxiety will prevent you from expressing yourself clearly, and you don’t want that – go with the flow, and you will have fun, I promise!

Two examples of my guest podcasts

Explore two podcasts with two different tones with two different hosts!

5 Reasons Why it’s Important to Teach Kids About Environmental Issues + Problems & Solutions + Podcast (Click here to read an article that goes with it)

Ins and Outs of Being an English Teacher: The Drive Home with Harry Waters Podcast Recording

To conclude

Podcasting can be easy or hard, depending on your personality, but it is a skill that can be practiced and improved. Give it a try! Which tip is the most useful for you? Do you have any tips you would like to add to our article from the teacher perspective? Let us know in the comments down below.

P.S. Alice in Methodologyland will be launching a podcast sometime this year. We’ve already recorded five episodes, but we had no time to design the podcast page, so we’re sorry our guests are still waiting for the episodes to come out!

P.P.S. Our partner, ELT-Consultants, is also starting a fantastic podcasting journey, so keep an eye on this page to see all the amazing guests Wendy, the founder of ELT-Consultants will host!

Click here to explore Alice’s material website where ESL materials are forever free!

All the materials except lesson plans and 30+ page interactive activity books will be free FOREVER! Why? Because sharing is caring, and the last couple of years haven’t been kind to all of us.  

Don’t forget to leave a review when you download materials! It’s just a minute of your time, and it means a lot to Alice as a material designer.

P.S. The store and the freebie library are not the same thing – the freebie library has some extra materials like conference presentations and webinar recordings which are not available in the store 

The subscription link for the store is below the author’s bio in every post. 

*Our posts may contain affiliate links, which is one of the ways we can keep going as an organization.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Skip to content