As an instructor of Spanish and Portuguese, I am always looking for ways to make my teaching and my students’ learning more communicative, collaborative, and effective. I took inspiration to develop the podcast assignment for the Portuguese 103 syllabus for this semester (SP22) from my experience with podcast-based discussions and assignments in my Spanish 302 class (FA21 / SP22). Going into this project, I had not found my students in general to be regular podcast listeners, so I had an intuition that this type of media was going to be somewhat unfamiliar to them.
Consequently, the assignment required my students to utilize lessons learned and apply their acquired knowledge via novel communication strategies. My students began by choosing a project topic and thinking about the podcasts we had previously discussed in class, one from NPR.org about the cultural phenomena of saudade,
and another from the Brazil Culture Connections website about a mother-and-daughter-lead musical collective from Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, titled “Xodó de mamãe”. I had been encouraging them in those preliminary discussions to think in broad terms about the structure of communication in this form of media. I invited them in this assignment to consider questions such as: how to create a good introduction; the relationship(s) among hosts and guest speakers; how and when to use music effectively in a podcast; and how to create a compelling sign-off.
In the fictional podcast that my students created, which they titled “Vidas paralelas”, the host and co-host invite two university students, one from Washington University studying biology, and the other from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro studying anthropology, to make a comparison of different aspects of their everyday life. While they met every requirement of the assignment as outlined in the instructions, what surprised me most in the final measure was how enjoyable they thought the whole project was! They all seemed to agree that the assignment was ultimately as entertaining and social an experience for them as it was challenging to create.
Julia Gamache, one of my students in Port 103, shares:
“I really enjoy Port 103. It's a well-paced class and it has greatly improved my grammar, already being a Portuguese speaker. The podcast assignment was a great way to get closer to my peers, and it was an exciting project since I have never recorded a podcast myself. It forced everyone to be creative and step out of our comfort zones. I really recommend this class to anyone who has an interest in Portuguese or Brasil. You will learn a lot in a fun and collaborative environment.”
Another student, Julez Villa agrees:
"The podcast assignment for Port 103 has been one of my favorite school projects so far. I loved writing and recording the script with my classmates, and editing it was actually really fun! It was my first time writing/recording a podcast, so being allowed to collaborate with my classmates on the podcast made the process much smoother and really exciting."
-By RLL Faculty, Mark Dowell