Listening Activity: Instagram Podcast (How I Built This)

For other listening ideas, check out my older blog posts on my favorite listening resources and how I teach listening in class.

This post includes a listening activity for upper intermediate or advanced ESL students.

This topic should be relevant, interesting, and approachable for most adult students. Even if the students in your class aren’t preparing to be “businessmen/women” or CEOs, they’ll gain some vocabulary and listening strategies that will help them in whatever field they’re planning on entering.

I created this activity for my class this past semester. We used the Pathways 3 textbook (which I recommend) and I taught these activities in Unit 5: Making a Living, Making a Difference.

Listening: How I Built This (Instagram)


At the beginning of class, ask your students:

Who uses Instagram?

What is Instagram?

What are some features of Instagram? (What do you do with it?)

Then show your students this picture (link here).

Tell them that this is a very important picture. Ask them to guess why that is. Take note of their guesses and then tell them that they will find out at the end of class.

Group Listening

Then the class listens this podcast: How I Built This: Instagram.

They follow along with this worksheet (on pages 1-2).

I separated the listening into three parts because it’s quite long and difficult. I recommend stopping after each part and letting the students discuss what they heard and understood in small groups. Students often have varying amounts of background knowledge on subjects like this, so it’s a great opportunity for them to teach each other.

On the second page of that document, there are teacher instructions for when to pause the video. Depending on your class, you might want to play each part two or three times.

It’s up to you whether you want them to struggle through all three parts by themselves or come back together as a class and help them out during each break.

End of Class

Once your students have listened to the audio and completed the questions in their groups, ask them about the picture of the dog again.

Why is it famous? Because it was the first Instagram post that used a filter.


For homework, you can ask the students to finish listening to the podcast at home. Have them report any new information they heard and/or new vocabulary words that they learned.

Getting students interested in podcasts is a great way to encourage listening for fun outside of class. My students really enjoyed this podcast and sought out more listenings from NPR afterward.

Thanks for reading.


Featured Image Credit: magicatwork





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