February 13, 2007

Podcast Crazy

I usually resist the newest technology, for example I still don't own a cell phone, but last year I bought an iPod. No, not because I'm a big music buff, but because of photographs. Yes, digital pictures. Did you know that you can upload files right from your camera into the iPod (instead of paying some kid to burn a CD at some internet cafe somewhere in your travels and not knowing he botched the job).

Well, that's how I got my iPod. Oh, I still have all my music on it, and there's still enough room to load a full backup of my laptop. But, what really has me a buzzin' lately is I've discovered Podcasts, those audio/video downloads everyone keeps talking about. I got there by accident, really I did. [smile]

For my next adventure in Europe, I will be traveling in countries that speak Spanish, French, and Italian. So, instead of trying to cram all three 'badly' into my thick skull, benefiting no one, especially the poor folks that have to hear me butcher their native language, I decided to study only Spanish and load some French and Italian audio files on the iPod for later listening down the road, so to speak.

Now, while almost all language books now come with the obligatory CDs, I started surfing the internet in search of something a little different. Podcasts are a natural. Turns out there are quite a few foreign language podcasts out there, with more being added every day. Most programs are conversational, short, build upon each 'episode' and are free. But once I got used to downloading my latest lessons, I started to look at other areas that might also have podcasts. And every day, I'm pleasantly surprised to find something new and different.

Here's some of what I have subscribed to:
LearnFrenchbyPodcast.com = a new lesson every week
CoffeeBreakSpanish.com = 15 minute lessons
LearnItalianPod.com = 10 minute lessons
MyDailyPhrase.com/Italian = 5 minutes of daily Italian
NotesinSpanish.com = intermediate Spanish conversations
FrenchPodClass.com = includes free written materials
YogaToday.com = Yoga Today 1 hour class/daily
CelticMusicPodcast.com = Irish & Celtic Music from Austin

Now, I have an Apple iBook and use iTunes for handling my music. I'm sure there are other ways to manage podcasts, but with iTunes it's simple for me. Either way, you don't even need an MP3 player - you can still download and listen/watch podcasts on your desktop/laptop. And don't sweat the subscriptions, they're usually free and the computer knows when a new podcast is available for download. About the only things you really need to utilize podcasts are a fast internet connection (some files can be large) and lots of hard drive space (in case you want to keep more), oh and some good headphones. [smile]

Want to find more, try these links:
Podcasts at the iTunes Store
PodcastAlley.com