The blurry image above was taken from last Saturday's Transglobal Edubloggers Flashmeeting organised by Paul Harrington in which I referred to an article which had caught my eye in that week's TES. For those that can't make out the fuzzy headline, it reads Headphones help pupils improve their reading and describes how a group of 159 pupils aged between six and thirteen were able to accelerate their reading age 'four times as quickly' as their peers over a period of ten weeks by listening back to recordings of themselves saying words they found difficult to remember.
The article written by Helen Ward is based on research carried out by Dr Flora Macleod, Dr Philip Macmillan and Professor Brahm Norwich from Exeter University in the study Listening to myself: improving oracy and literacy among children who fall behind' which you can purchase online for £16.45 includng VAT.
Although I've not read the original research, the article explains that pupils recorded themselves saying a list of words correctly with help from their teaching assistants using 'recorders designed for people learning foreign languages'.
"The researchers found that the children in the self-voice group made on average a gain of 1.56 months compared to those following their usual classroom routine, who gained 0.37 months".
It also states that when recordings were made by another speaker the children did not make the same progress 'as those who listened to themselves'.
The article reminded me of the inspiring work of Kathleen Holton whose use of digital voice recorders, and Audacity has helped her pupils personalise their learning by routinely letting them transfer recordings of themselves to their mp3 players or mobile phones so they can revise when and where they want. By giving them access to downloadable transcripts via the school's Moddle site too, they can boost both their listening and reading comprehension at the same time.
For MFL teachers interested in persuing the possibilities of podcasting Headphones help pupils improve their reading provides a strong argument for recording your pupils in class and offering them distance learning opportunities via a VLE or podcatcher such as iTunes. More importantly perhaps, the above research is based on empirical not anecdotal evidence of the benefits of doing so.
This makes for good reading, no?