10 TED Talks to Motivate Language Learners

10 TED Talks to Motivate English Language Learners
10 TED Talks to Motivate Language Learners

Are you taking an English class in DC and looking for ways to boost your language learning outside of the classroom? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we are talking about how popular TED Talks are exceptional supplemental learning tools for language learners.

If you have never watched a TED Talk, you may be wondering what makes them so special. TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design,” which began as a conference for leaders in 1984. During this conference, leaders listened to powerful speeches on various topics in multiple languages.

Beginning in 2006, these inspirational TED Talks have become available for free on the official TED website. Currently, there are over 3000 TED Talks available to watch on the website – the videos have been watched over one billion times. Today, it is easier than ever for students attending language schools in DC to participate in global learning via TED Talks.

TED Talks as Tools for Learning English

While everyone can gain something from viewing a TED Talk, there are several reasons why language learners will benefit. For example, students who are taking English courses in Washington DC are typically preparing to take an English exam or a future in an English-speaking career field. In order to communicate in English fluently, one must be able to listen, speak, read, and write in English.

By viewing TED Talks, students can practice these necessary language skills. As they watch the videos, they are strengthening their English listening skills. As they use subtitles or print out transcripts, they are working on the English reading skills. For those heading to an English test center to take the TOEFL or the IELTS, viewing TED Talks is a study tool.

A few tips for those who plan to use TED Talks as supplemental language learning tools:

  • Print out transcripts to use after you view the video.
  • Do not rely too heavily on subtitles.
  • Pay attention to tone and body language.
  • Write down new vocabulary.
  • Find opportunities to talk about what you learned from the TED Talk.

10 TED Talks That Will Make Everyone Want to Learn Another Language

We’ve compiled a list of ten of the most popular TED Talks for language learners. We encourage you to listen to them using the language learning techniques you have been practicing in your classes.

5 Techniques to Speak Any Language by Sid Efromovich – A positive speaker who speaks seven languages (a hyperpolyglot), Sid shares his tips for language learning. He will make you believe it is possible and give you practical tips.

Breaking the Language Barrier by Tim Doner – One of the most popular TED Talks about language learning, this video includes a teen hyperpolyglot. He discusses his language learning journey and the various obstacles he has overcome.

Go Ahead, Make Up New Words by Erin McKean – This is a short video that shows language learners how to have fun with language by sharing six different ways to make new words in English.

How Language Transformed Humanity by Mark Pagel – This 20-minute video is delivered by a biologist. In his speech, Mark Pagel explains how language evolved as society grew. With tons of insight into the history of language and culture, you will walk away from the video feeling more knowledgeable.

Metaphorically Speaking by James Geary – If you have ever been confused by a metaphor, this video is a must-watch. As language learners not only have to master a new vocabulary, they must also learn how to understand literary elements like the metaphor in this new language.

One Simple Method to Learn Any Language by Scott Young & Vat Jaiswal – This is another motivational TED Talk for anyone hoping to learn another language. This particular video focuses on what they claim is their one simple solution – no speaking English.

Rapid Language Hacking by Benny Lewis – This highly motivational speaker will inspire you to overcome challenges to learn a new language. After struggling with English and even receiving speech therapy, Benny overcame his language learning hurdles and now writes a popular blog under the same title as the video.

The Benefits of a Bilingual Brain by Mia Nacamulli – If you need to remember why you are studying another language, this video will remind you of all the benefits. In this video, the speaker highlights the benefits of language learning for your brain beyond simply making travel easier.

The Linguist Genius of Babies by Patricia Kuhl – Using brain scans and science, Patricia Kuhl explains how babies pick up one language over another. Through listening and cueing in the sounds they need to know, babies learn the language.

Why I Keep Speaking Up, Even When People Mock My Accent by Safwat Saleem – This inspiring TED Talk will have you believing in the power of your dreams. The speaker grew up with a stutter; then as an adult, he was hurt when online commenters started making fun of his Pakistani accent. His story of overcoming his struggles and accepting his accent will leave a lasting impression.

Plus, You Can Even Find TED Talk Playlists for Language Learners

In addition to TED Talks that specifically address language learning, you can also boost your learning by viewing TED Talks on topics that are of interest to you. Some TED Talks are humorous; others are inspirational. Find TED Talks with content you will enjoy viewing.

Plus, you can also follow language learning TED Talk playlists that include videos that are useful to language learners. These playlists often include TED Talks covering a variety of topics that are engaging, as well as TED Talks with speakers that are easy to understand.

Here are two playlists to help you get started:

Great TED Talks for Language Practice

Talks That’ll Inspire You to Learn a New Language

You can also search by the topic “language” to find several related TED Talks.


If you found this article helpful, we’d love to talk with you about the Washington language school, inlingua. Contact us today for more information!

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