One of the great activities that can be done with high school ESL students to promote intercultural awareness is having them communicate with students from another culture by the means of podcasts. Being an asynchronous type of communication, students take time to prepare, edit, and record their message before sending it. I’ve heard of teachers using this tool with their students for communication with native speakers of the target language, so that students would get linguistic corrective feedback from their partner. I really find it’s a great idea, not so much for the corrective feedback part, but for the fact that students hear authentic language, practice their oral English (and written if they write their text in advance), and get to learn about another person and his/her culture.
Using podcast is also a great way of enhancing student’s motivation in learning the language, as mentioned by Scott Duarte in his great video, because students know that their podcast will be posted on the web and could possibly be heard by a lot of people. Maya Payne Smart mentions that the fact that podcasts can be published on iTunes, the same place their favourite music videos are, is a source of motivation for students. I find podcasting also a good way of increasing students’ sense of accomplishment, because they are the ones who do the majority of the work, they don’t just sit there and listen.
Podcasts can also be used only for listening activities. This site provides more than a thousand interesting podcasts for ESL learners, and what is great is that most of them, if not all, include the written version of the text. So, if the people doing the podcast speak too fast, the learner can simply follow the written text version.