Multimedia English Class with Ted Talks

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Teaching research writing and communication courses has been one of the best experiences I have had in my teaching career so far. One of the challenges, however, has been encouraging students to read articles before joining classes. These reading articles are a prerequisite for our students to complete a series of reflective reading and writing practices. Therefore, I have started taking advantage of TED Talks as a not so state-of-the-art, but practical resource for a college communication course. Here are a few ways I use this resource in my classes: 

  1. As an inspiration tool: for students to get interested in an abstract topic that they might not have necessarily thought about or might not have had any personal experience with (Fitria, 2022). 
  1. As a resource for practicing listening (Tilwani, 2022) and summarizing skills: In almost every communication class that we teach, summarizing is an important skill that is taught and practiced. Instructors are always in search of interesting videos for students to watch and summarize. 
  1. As a resource for identifying main ideas: It is fascinating how students are often so focused on the details and examples used in the talks that they miss the main point and purpose of the talks.  
  1. As a resource for identifying supporting ideas: Students often struggle with organizing their thoughts for developing supporting statements for their main ideas in writing or presentation preparation.  
  1. As a sample for creating outlines in writing or speaking: One of the common assignments in writing or speaking courses is the creation of an outline of thoughts. Having students create a reverse outline of a TED Talk is a great exercise for modeling how writing outlines or speech outlines are created. 
  1. As a resource for modeling successful presentation skills (Fitria, 2022): TED Talks are a great resource for students to see what presenting strategies can be used for achieving higher impression results. I usually play a few talks and we analyze the presentation skills of the presenters and we draw conclusions to create a list of effective verbal and nonverbal presentation skills.  
  1. As a resource for practicing APA skills: Students often find citing a daunting skill, and having them use TED Talks as a regular research practice source helps reduce this minor stress in courses. 
  1. As an inspiration tool for research skills: One of the ways I try making students passionate about their research essay assignment is by allowing them to navigate and get inspired by a topic for their research essay. Students really appreciate the opportunity to choose their own research topic and to have access to a source such as TED Talks that hosts millions of inspiring topics to research and learn from. 
  1. As a vocabulary source: Once we listen to a talk a few times for the various reasons mentioned above, I ask students to jot down all the related vocabulary they hear about the topic being discussed. We usually post those terms to (Uchihara & Webb, 2022). 
  1. As a tool for enhancing students’ discussion skills (Vanifantsyeva, 2021): When listening to TED Talks, students have access to inspiring subject experts. This helps them learn details about a subject matter and use that knowledge in a discussion context. 

TED Talk videos are a great way to encourage and possibly inspire students to read the assigned course readings once they have had a chance to look at an idea from a certain perspective and possibly now have their own opinions formed. 

Do you ever use TED Talks in your English/ESL/EAP/OSLT/Communication classrooms? If yes, how do you use them? Could you share a TED Talk you have found created a fascinating buzz in your classroom? 


Fitria, T. N. (2022). Using TED Talks In English Language Teaching (ELT): Supplemental Resources for English Language Teaching (ELT). SOSMANIORA: Jurnal Ilmu Sosial dan Humaniora, 1(1), 36-43. 

Tilwani, S. A., Vadivel, B., Uribe-Hernández, Y. C., Wekke, I. S., & Haidari, M. M. F. (2022). The Impact of Using TED Talks as a Learning Instrument on Enhancing Indonesian EFL Learners’ Listening Skill. Education Research International, 2022

Uchihara, T., & Webb, S. (2022). Materials for teaching vocabulary. In The Routledge Handbook of Materials Development for Language Teaching (pp. 202-217). Routledge. 

Vanifantsyeva, V. (2021). The advantages of using Ted Talks materials for developing students’ discussion skills. 

Hi everyone! My name is Sherry, and I have been teaching adult learners for the past 18 years. I am an OCT certified teacher with a master’s degree in Education. I teach English, ESL, OSLT, research and report writing courses at a post-secondary level of education. As an educator, I am passionate about incorporating diverse instructional strategies that would benefit students with various learning abilities. I am also passionate about research and implementing various ED-Tech tools in developing and instructing various courses. I am very glad to be a part of the TESL Blog team.


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