Latin@ voices in the Midwest: Ohio Habla Podcast

Elena Foulis (foulis.5@osu.edu), OSU, United States of America

In recent years, the use and development of Podcasts has significantly grown. Podcasts allow us to listen to topics we are interested in and learn more about an issue or community. Podcasts like This American Life, Radio Ambulante and Latino USA, put at the center of their stories experiences of people and places. Indeed, using audio as a medium to tell the larger stories of our community has proven successful as signaled by all top 10 iTunes podcasts—5 of which are documentary style. Creating university based podcast like, Ohio Habla, will allow us to connect and learn more the Latin@/Hispanic experiences locally, while amplifying the voices of the community everywhere. Language and cultural studies are in a unique position to utilize this medium to advance the understanding of how culture and language is both transmitted and analyzed.

The Ohio Habla podcast is primarily produced by students in advanced Spanish language and Latin@ studies classes together with their professor. Each student plans, researches, secures a podcast guest and carries out the interview. Students are able to continue to develop their written, reading, speaking and listening skills and they are responsible to produce one whole 30-45 minute podcast.

Ohio Habla is an extension of the digital oral history project, ONLO (oral narratives of Latinos/as in Ohio), however, it focuses topics, rather than life history. On the other hand, in the case of Latin@ students, they collect family stories, instead of interviewing a member of the community. Podcasting can help document issues that are of interest to our community and potentially be able to share it more widely. Finding new and real ways to use language and storytelling is of great benefit to our students, and podcast in the foreign language classroom can accomplish this. Our own teaching methodology here at Ohio State encourages second language learners to use the language communicatively and in real situations that are as authentic as possible. Podcasting is a great way to use the language in real and creative ways, and most importantly, in community—an element that is often left out the foreign language classroom for various reasons (mainly, time).

Teaching methodologies

As a pilot project, this use of podcasting in the classroom may pave the way for further research opportunities about the benefit of podcasting in advanced language courses, service-learning and heritage language learners. This course enhancement will also provide students with a structured opportunity to make deeper connections with Latino/a campus community, to reflect on that experience, and to gain interviewing skills that will serve them in the future. Additionally, students will be instructed in (1) Language and intercultural skills 2) Organizational and professional skills through the research of a topic, securing a guest that can speak about the topic, preparing the guest with agreed up points of conversation, and practicing before recording the interview (3) Technical skills through using recording equipment and editing software.