Listen up! | Bangkok Post: learning

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Learning > Learning Together (เรียนภาษาอังกฤษไปด้วยกัน)

Listen up!

Photos courtesy of UniGlo

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Podcasts can help you learn

Faced with a mountain of information ahead of his university application, Bangkok student Suyash Kothari found a podcast that delivered the facts he needed. He told Bangkok Post Learning all about it.

As you are about to discover, reading huge chunks of text is exhausting

In preparing for my fast-approaching final exams for high school, I have become acutely aware of how laborious it is to sift through page upon page of information from textbooks. Similarly, when I sought advice for my college applications or tried to learn more about the experiences different international students have had at colleges in the U.S. and U.K., I would often go on blogs or read lengthy college profiles online, neither of which could completely address the specific concerns and questions I had as a Southeast Asian applicant. While textbooks can be a great resource for students when revising for tests—as can colleges’ websites for putting together university applications—a growing number of students have found success by listening to podcasts that have conceptual explanations that help with test revision, or by hearing directly from older students who have experienced and succeeded with college applications themselves. 

I distinctly remember how podcasts transformed my learning.  In the lead-up to my Spanish oral exam, I would listen to an episode of Coffee Break Spanish Magazine, a Spanish podcast for intermediate level speakers, every day. Each episode involved an interview with authentic Spanish, the introduction of a new idiom, and a Q&A session about Spanish grammar. When it came time for me to converse in Spanish for my exam, I was able to reproduce a Spanish accent and show off some cool Spanish sayings, thanks to the podcasts! 

There are podcasts that can help with virtually any subject you take, from the award-winning Freakonomics Radio to gain new perspectives on global Economic and Business issues to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk Radio—“where Science and pop-culture collide”.

In addition to school subjects, university applications take up a large portion of students’ time.  Unfortunately, researching universities and writing good essays for applications is a daunting process for many students: I was no exception. I would scour the internet for universities that I could truly connect with and information I could potentially write about in an essay. I obsessively scrolled through university rankings, opened up dozens of tabs of promotional content and read blogs that often only gave me surface-level information. 

While these resources are no doubt essential in providing you with what a university offers, it is very difficult to get a real feel for why you would want to experience a particular university’s education or how you could shape your university journey. It is easy to feel detached from the university application process, especially because the information in guides and online resources is not geared directly toward Southeast Asian students.

Podcasts once again prove to be a great way to tackle this issue.

For example, globeChang(e) is an up-and-coming podcast series produced by UniGlo, an organisation “for students, by students” that helps local high-schoolers navigate the maze of university applications, made in collaboration with Asia-based advanced experiential learning company NEXSTEP. In each episode, series host and Michael Waitze Media founder Michael I. Waitze engages in a revealing conversation with a thriving Southeast Asian high school graduate, delving into their personal journey from school to university. The students featured in the podcasts candidly share their experiences transitioning from high school to university, the personal growth they have experienced, and their unique stories of overcoming obstacles. 

Kira Bernhard

In one episode, NIST International School graduate Kira Bernhard explores her passion for healthy food and how she has found opportunities through pursuing a degree in biology from Rollins College.  In another episode, Oxford University student and Shrewsbury International School alumna Yasmin Nguyen questions the expectations that come with the labels of name, race and religion and how her transition away from the Bangkok international school “bubble” has informed her world view. 

These podcast episodes are a great example of easy and efficient sources of knowledge and inspiration, tailored for Southeast Asian students. Like globeChang(e), many podcast series consist of episodes that are 30 minutes or less, free of charge and available on many platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Many high school students tune into podcasts when commuting to and from school, using what would have been wasted time to expand their knowledge base. Others listen to them before going to bed every night—a good alternative to endlessly scrolling through social media. 

Take control of your learning now. Get a better picture of what university life is like—directly from an entire community of Thailand’s international school graduates on the free globeChang(e)podcast—so that you can be a step ahead with your university research.

About the author:


Suyash Kothari is a high school senior at Bangkok Patana School.  As an active member of his school community, Suyash gives workshops to parents and teachers on gender stereotyping and, through his role of senior delegate, promotes student welfare. Though his main academic interests are in the sciences, he enjoys music, board games and multicolored socks, and hopes to expand his horizons at Brown University. 

Learn from listening

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Vocabulary:

alumna (n): a female graduate of a university -

candid : to be honest about something that is maybe controversial, that people do not acgree about - ตรงไปตรงมา, ซื่อสัตย์

conceptual : using ideas, idea for something new - ความคิด, กรอบความคิด

concern : a worry - ความกังวล

daunting (adj): making somebody feel nervous and less confident about doing something - ทำให้กลัว, ทำให้เกรงขาม, ทำให้กังวลใจ

distinctly : very clearly - อย่างเห็นได้ชัด ชัดเจน

exhausting : causing you to become extremely tired - ทำให้เหน็ดเหนื่อย

inspiration : someone or something that gives you new ideas or enthusiasm to do something - แรงบันดาลใจ

laborious : needing a lot of work or "labor" -

obsessive : thinking about one thing all the time, having a preoccupation -

scour : to search a place or document thoroughly for something - ค้นหา, ตรวจหา

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