A History of the World in 100 Objects


Level: Upper Int — Advanced                                   Year: 2010; 2012

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!


Dear all,

This research project is meant to develop your reading, listening and speaking skills as well as your abilities to think critically. The final stage of this work will be a small podcast (13-15 min) which you need to record individually or in groups, possibly, mixing with some interviews. Please read the following guidelines carefully.

 1) Stage One:  Getting familiar with voice-recording software.

Among a variety of voice-recording software  my preference is Audacity; you can go to http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/windows and download this program free of charge. You need Audacity 1.2.6 installer and LAME MP3 encoder (this is important because you will have to create MP3 files). Save the software to you hard drive, unpack and follow the instructions. Do you think you can choose English as the main language? :)  Using Audacity create a short recording which will be your sound check; then make sure you know how to convert files into MP3 format and how you can import MP3 tracks for background music. (You might find the help section very useful!). If you are a little bit technophobic, do not panic but go to help page (in English, of course); this will improve your reading  skills substantially 😉

 2) Stage Two:  Listening

Go to A History of the World in 100 Objects BBC website and listen to at least 5 podcasts. These radio programs are relatively short (av. 13 min) and you can easily download  them to your computer or mp3 player. The recordings are quite educational and even entertaining, however, while listening, please try to answer the following questions. You need to write down the answers.

  • What is the goal of the radio show?
  • Who is it aimed at? (target audience)
  • What is the structure of each podcast?
  • The narration, is it formal or casual? What kind of language will the listener expect from this kind of program?
  • What devices are used to make the show catchy? (interviews, personal experience, music, intonation…)

 3) Stage Three: Planning

At this stage explore A History of the World in 100 Objects official website. There are several parts and the resource can be used in several ways. What’s the idea of the project? Who can participate? How? Who will benefit from this resource? Overall, why was it created? Don’t miss the first podcast.

If you can answer all the questions above without hesitation and with some proof from the web-page, start thinking about an object which is worth describing. This could be a teaspoon or a Fabergé egg, an ink pen or the Sputnik. Go back to stage two and use the answers (which I believe you have written down before) as guidance. Before you create your own podcast you need to know for sure who your listeners are (target audience, not your teacher), what the structure of the podcast will be like, what tricks you will implement to keep your listeners on their toes, etc.

4) Stage Four: Research

To record a comparatively long podcast (13 min) you need to give factual information about the object of your choice, in other words, you need facts. No doubt you will go through Wikipedia and Google search; you might even go to Google Books or Google Papers. Feel free to use any information from the web. If you decide to take an interview (say, in Russian) and later use it in your podcast, make sure you translate main ideas of the speaker.

5) Stage Five: Recording

Start creating your podcast early. You will probably have several takes and I recommend you to break the podcast into several parts, 2-3 min each; so if you are still working on the later part of your research you will be able to record the beginning of the talk.

Please, do not copy ideas/texts from other sources and if you do so, give reference. In other words, absolutely no plagiarism is acceptable!  I expect you to finish your work and e-mail it to me by 13 March. I will make sure other people will listen to your voices and, possibly, leave feedback; so be serious.  I believe this task will not only develop your reading, listening and speaking skills but will also raise your interest to English and, no doubt, bring you pleasure and joy.

Good luck!