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How To Learn English with TED Talks: The Best Guide in 2024.

Dernière mise à jour : 15 déc. 2023

Un microphone invitant à donner un TED Talk.

Are you a TED fan? Victoria Road is, too! TED Talks are an amazing way to learn English online for free and boost your general knowledge. But do you actually know how to learn English with TED Talks effectively?

We've put together the best guide on how to get the most out of TED Talks. Victoria Road will give you practical expert tips on how to improve your English language skills and Vocabulary with TED.

Are TED Talks good for learning English?

The beginning of a TED talk video.

They are not just good - they are some of the best English learning resources! Here's why TED Talks have such a great potential for learning English:

1) TED Talks cover a wide variety of topics.

From Global Warming to Digital Marketing, TED Talks will give you food for thought on almost any topic. Follow into your passions, exploring the subjects that you have a personal or professional interest for. Alternatively, you can dive into something you don't know to discover a new subject!

It's useful to improve general knowledge in any of your languages. Imagine how rewarding and empowering you will feel when you are able to talk about complex topics in English!

2) TED Talks give a fresh perspective on any subject.

TED Talks often offer a new and original take on a topic. They help you find out the things you didn't know and maybe haven't even thought about before! This can be really eye-opening.

This way, TED Talks are great to develop a criticial perspective on almost all range of subjects. In the exams like IELTS, your ability to have an in-depth discussion on a complex topic can get you one of the top scores!

3) TED Talks have rich vocabulary.

TED Talks have unparalleled vocabulary. You can learn new Advanced terms, idioms, collocations, phrasal verbs, synonyms - the list goes on!

They have a perfect mix of both formal and informal vocabulary, which you can use in professional or academic settings. Check out Victoria Road's blog post on how to learn English vocabulary and actually remember it.

4) TED Talks improve your Listening.

TED Talks can greatly improve your Listening skills. Fluent natural speech, proficient English speakers, a variety of English accents - TED Talks have it all! Also, you can't feel frustrated as you can turn on English subtitles for almost any talk!

It's useful to listen to various accents to get used to them. According to research, there are 373 million English native speakers. The world's population are more than 8 billion people. Very simple math is enough to see that there are definitely more non-native speakers of English. And they all have their specific accents - it's good to train your ear to understand them!

5) TED Talks improve your Speaking.

Did you know that Listening and Speaking go together like Paris and the Eiffel Tower? The more you listen, the better your speaking will be. You can use the speakers' vocabulary, imitate their intonation and even accent to become a more fluent and confident English speaker!

The key is to observe how the speakers speak. Think what kinds of sentences they use - short of long? How do they give arguments? How do they engage the audience? There are myriads of ways TED Talks can improve your speaking - but also your communication skills!

How to learn English with TED Talks: 10 practical tips in 2023.

Various TED Talks from the official TED Talk website.

While TED Talks are a great educational resource, you definitely need to know how to get the most out of it. Here are some of tips that Victoria Road's students find particularly useful.

Let's dive right into!

1) Get the general idea of a talk.

Listen to a TED Talk and try to understand the general idea of the talk. Why did the speaker give this talk? What prompted him to do that? What does he feel passionate about? What are the main points he/she made?

2) Record words that go together.

We call these words 'collocations'. And TED Talks is the best way to learn them! Let's see how.

Read the transcript and make notes on any useful collocations the speaker used. Remember that if you write down one word (e.g. "curiosity"), this will not really help you to remember it! For example, instead of jotting down the word 'curiosity', write 'stir curiosity' instead.

Knowing a verb or verbs that go with the word "curiosity" will actually help you use it in speech. As for international exams, such as IELTS, good knowledge of collocations is absolutely essential for a high score!

3) Write personalised sentences.

Write one or two personalised sentences with the collocations that you have chosen - the more memorable the context is, the easier it would be for you to recall the word later! e.g. Lectures of Mr. Jones, who was my university professor, always stirred my curiosity.

4) Imitate the speakers' voice.

Read and speak together with the speaker trying to imitate his/her voice and intonation. The more you do it, the more your intonation will sound natural in English. For instance, in English we stress important words in a sentence and vary the pitch of our voice - this is how we show interest in the topic and in the conversation.

In many languages, such as Russian and French, intonation plays a much less important role. In English, however, it is crucial.

5) Discuss the TED Talk with a friend.

Talk about your favourite TED Talk with a friend! This will help you understand the topic better, share your thoughts, and also practise the new vocabulary that you've learnt!

Focus on getting your point across and listening to your friend. Having a genuine conversation is key to becoming a better speaker.

6) Dive into Grammar.

If you are studying a Grammar point in your English classes (e.g. Past Tenses), read the transcript and try to analyse how the speaker used this Grammar in his speech. Why did they use this Tense? Can you find other examples in the transcript?

Then play the TED Talk and notice how the speaker pronounced the sentence. Did he shorten any forms? Did he link the words together? Here's an example: "I'd forgotted to call her before I left". The speaker will certainly use a short form in speech, and it's interesting to see how he would do this!

7) Read it out loud!

Read the transcript out loud. Imagine you're the speaker, and try to do your best! Speak clearly and naturally, and try to engage the audience!

Stress the important words, vary your pitch and tone, add some drama! This will boost your confidence in a way you can't imagine.

8) Create personalised context.

Write personalised sentences with the new expressions. A personal context always helps you to remember a word better.

9) Check the best English-English dictionary!

Use Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary to explore the meaning of the unknown words. Victoria Road has a separate post on how to get the most out of this online dictionary, which gives you so much valuable information about a word!

10) Go social!

If the talk really resonated with you, post it on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter! Discuss it with your friends, let them share it and react to it. You will certainly get a new insight into the topic you're passionate about!

What are the best TED Talks for learning English?

There are plenty of amazing TED Talks out there, and all of them can help improve your English. Your choice will depend on what you're looking for in the TED Talks - is it the topic you're passionate about, a particular variety of English, or something else?

We suggest you sort the talks to find the newest, oldest, most relevant and viewed talks. Usually the most viewed talks are an interesting filter, as they offer fascinating insights into general topics, such as life, success, or health.

A screenshot of TED Talks official website, showing how the user can sort the talks.

We've selected the top 3 most viewed TED Talks, which are likely to impress you, educate you and shower you with lots of useful English vocabulary! Here they are.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie giving a TED Talk on the danger of a single story to combat cultural stereotypes.

In an intercultural world, nothing is more critical than a cultural misunderstanding. The speaker gives an eye-opening talk on the dangers of cultural stereotypes and narratives. And i's a treasure trove of interesting Vocabulary and Grammar related to an international life!

Lera Boroditsky giving a TED talk on how language shapes the way we think.

Watch this is revolutionary talk if you're wondering if you'll ever be able to think in English. Given by an experienced linguist, it helps you understand a lot about how we use our native and foreign language to understand the world. A gem not to be missed!

Matthieu Ricard giving a TED Talk on the habits of happiness to create a more fulfilled life.

We all want to be happy. It's as simple as that. Watch the amazing talk given by a biochemist who became a Buddhist monk to find out how you can create a more fulfilled life, while learning lots of useful vocabulary along the way!

Final thoughts

TED Talks is an extraordinary way to improve your English. In this guide, you've learnt how to get the most out of them to improve your English.

Victoria Road offers exciting opportunities to build on your passion for knowledge to become a better English speaker. With personalised guidance, support and feedback on your progress, you can gain confidence in your spoken English, boost your Grammar and Vocabulary and improve your pronunciation! Ask Victoria any question you have to start your English learning journey with TED.

Happy TED learning!

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