Podcasts are being used to bring in new ISU students

Tess Hannapel

An ISU professor has created a new way to recruit students to the department of foreign languages and literatures: podcasts.

Podcasts are pre-recorded online radio shows that automatically transfer files to users’ computers for later use.

“As I walk through campus, I see so many students wearing headphones,” said Julio Rodriguez, instructional support specialist and director of the Foreign Language Learning Resource Center. “So I thought, why not use this technology to reach these people a little better.”

With this in mind, Rodriguez said he developed the idea of “LangCasts: Experiencing Languages Through ISU Podcasts.”

The Langcasts are free and available at the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature’s homepage at www.language.iastate.edu/main/podcast/default.htm.

“It’s like a series and each podcast is like an episode,” Rodriguez said.

“Each episode is approximately 12 minutes long and what you get is a broad description of everything offered in a specific program in this department.”

These podcasts are targeted at high school seniors getting ready for college and first- and second-year ISU students at Iowa State who are thinking about picking up another language.

“We have been promoting the podcasts through foreign language teachers in different high schools,” Rodriguez said. “We hand out fliers at teacher conferences. Right now, I think most Iowa high schools are aware of the podcasts.”

So far, there are two series scheduled to be put online. The first 10 episodes will be in English and focus on the programs offered in the department. The other 10 will be like small language lessons.

The first podcast, which explains the Chinese program, went online Nov. 7. Two other podcasts have been released since then, covering the French and German programs, Rodriguez said.

“These episodes give information about classes offered, why it would be good for you to have the language on your resume, what you should do if you are considering learning the language,” he said. “It also mentions opportunities to travel abroad and how to combine your major and the language.”

Rodriguez coordinates the project while a group of students help complete each podcast.

Lori Lynch, senior in Spanish, drafts the scripts and sets up interviews. These interviews are usually completed by Mehmet Sahin, graduate student in curriculum and instruction, and each episode is hosted by Alex Ely, freshman in management. Daniel Francis, sophomore in mechanical engineering, edits each program, and Song-Yan Mo, senior in management information systems, helps upload the files.

It takes almost four weeks to create one episode and the students are usually working on three or four episodes at once.

The podcasts include interviews with alumni, professors and faculty in the program. They also include tips from students in the classes and information on events.

“This will introduce the foreign language programs to the medium,” Rodriguez said, “but it will take a while to figure out how to use this technology efficiently and meaningfully.”