The Australian

University students learn from The Australian’s Hamish podcast by Charlie Peel

A university lecturer has adapted The Australian’s chart-topping podcast series Who The Hell Is Hamish? as a learning resource to be used in the classroom.


University of Western Australia English language teacher Carolyn Martin, who has developed her own online database of lesson plans, has made questionnaires about the podcast’s first two episodes that can be used for high school and adult English learners.

Ms Martin told The Australian the podcast and its engaging content was an ideal medium for teachers to use to boost student participation and grab their attention.

“As the notion of the flipped classroom is gaining in popularity, where the student listens or reads the material in their own time to then be prepared for discussion and activities during class time, the podcast fits perfectly into this teaching style,” Ms Martin said.

“It can be a waste of half an hour for a student to listen to it in class and some of them will need to listen to it more than once to grasp the content.

“This way, they can do it in their own time.

“The podcast idea certainly fits in with that because they can ¬listen at home but do the -discussions and research in the classroom.”

The podcast series by The Australian’s journalist Greg Bearup investigated the life and crimes of NSW conman Hamish McLaren, who has pleaded guilty to defrauding 15 victims of more than $7 million. Episodes of the podcast have been played more than three million times through various feeds, rocketing the series to No 1 on the iTunes podcast charts.

About 40 per cent of the series’ listeners have been overseas.

“It’s an interesting story, the podcast itself, because it is real life and that is always more interesting,” Ms Martin said.

“Students can relate to it more. Fraud is something that is common around the world, but the students can’t believe that someone (Hamish) could have so many stories.”

Ms Martin has been using the podcast as a talking point for her adult English language course students at UWA’s Centre for Eng¬lish Language Teaching.

“They take it home and listen to it and come back to class to talk about what they have heard,” she said.

“One of the things they discussed was lies and the question, have you ever lied before?

“From that, they admitted they’d all lied before and then talked about when it is OK to tell a white lie and when it has gone too far.

“We discussed the locations mentioned in the podcast and they all got engaged in finding the places and talking about the story.”

Ms Martin said the clear language, usually spoken in broad Australian accents, was useful to students wanting to learn the intricacies of the English language and terms such as “squirrelled away” and “hard-nosed”.

The Who the Hell is Hamish? podcast series can be accessed here.

The lesson plans are available at