TED meets ELT

Malgorzata Kosior (mkosior@otenet.gr) Dimitris Tzouris (tzouris@act.edu)

The following article is based on a talk given by the authors at the TESOL Macedonia -Thrace 2013 Convention How do great ideas spread in a connected world? How can educators use such ideas to inspire their students and help them learn?

You do know TED, don’t you? Then I don’t have to mention the many astonishing ideas presented by brilliant people at the TED conferences each year. But did you know that TED stands for Technology Entertainment Design? At first, most of us relate the second letter with education instead. In fact, TED has been a lot about education, since it’s much more than a conference. TED is a platform for sharing ideas, which educators around the world have been tapping into in order to inspire their students. Not surprisingly, the most popular TED talk, counting more than 20 million total views to date, is Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about schools killing creativity. context within which the English language can be used, and to help them gain a different perspective on a variety of issues, change their attitudes and spark their minds through contact with dynamic users of English.

Talk Selection
TED talks are a brilliant resource for listening and speaking classes at (upper-) intermediate and advanced levels for young adults and adult learners. They are presented in a casual manner, but introduce advanced vocabulary and colloquialisms at the same time without, however, overwhelming the students with sophisticated lexis and syntax. Several criteria should be considered in the selection of the talk appropriate for your class. In terms of content, the selected talk should be of general interest to the target audience. Young adult learners who are about to start their careers need positive messages which will make them believe that one day they can make a difference in the world. Another important criterion is the level of difficulty. Although there is an option of watching each TED talk with English subtitles, talks delivered by native speakers or ones with near-native but clear accents, and with a challenging but not intimidating level of difficulty will help your students engage in the process, maximize language learning benefits and capture their attention. An interactive transcript provided for each TED talk enables you to go directly to the part you want to watch and focus on. However, it is worth emphasizing that talks delivered by non-native speakers, or speakers of languages other than English, can be equally engaging, inspiring, and entertaining. The goal is accomplished if your students leave the classroom with upgraded language competence and cultural awareness, and walk away with a message, a memorable line… Finally, learning English is not only about expanding vocabulary and learning new structures. It is about connecting with the world. TED talks make students global citizens who are willing to experiment, explore and discover, and embrace diversity. A language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules. A language is a flash of the human spirit. It’s a vehicle through which the soul of each particular culture comes into the material world. Every language is an old-growth forest of the mind, a watershed, a thought, an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities (Wade Davis: Dreams from Endangered Cultures) Once watching TED talks becomes a new everyday habit for your students, English gets integrated into their lives in a natural way, and from a mere tool for passing standardized exams it becomes the key to meaningful communication.

A Platform for Spreading Ideas
In 2009, TED launched the TEDx program, allowing anyone to register and curate an independent TED-like event. Four years later, the TEDx programme has allowed people all over the world to share their ideas and inspire local communities. Today, more than 6,000 TEDx events have taken place in 1,200 cities (including Thessaloniki and Athens), by 2,000 registered organizers in 133 countries. There are even events focused solely on education or teen speakers, as well as events organized at universities or entirely by students. Since all talks have to be recorded and made available online for free, some get picked up and amplified by TED by getting posted on the TED website. Really inspiring TEDx speakers might also be invited to give a talk at a main TED conference.

Going Mainstream
Although TED started appealing to a constantly increasing audience via the Internet, offering all the talks for free on the TED website, as well as on YouTube, iTunes and via iOS and Android mobile apps, it has also started spreading via mainstream media in order to reach a wider audience and create conversations around those ideas. TED Books offers longer narratives based on TED talks and NPR’s TED Radio Hour focuses on specific themes by grouping talks and interviewing speakers. TED’s latest initiative was a TV special focused on education. TED Talks Education featured 8 speakers, including Sir Ken Robinson and Bill Gates. All talks are available online.

ELT loves TED
We are rapidly moving away from a world of information scarcity to a highly networked world, where information is in great abundance. The Internet has enabled all of us to become active learners and to connect with the growing community of educators who share ideas on teaching and learning. TED is where English language instruction and social media meet and thrive. Educators have been encouraged to use TED talks in the classroom for two reasons: To provide students with the



Steps, Tasks, and Activities
Use the following practical hints to prepare your own tasks: 1. Prediction - introduce the speaker, ask the students to deduce the content of the talk from the speaker's profile 2. Vocabulary work - while watching, ask the students to select 5-10 vocabulary items (words and expressions) which convey the message of the talk 3. (Classic) open-ended questions to be answered while watching the talk 4. Debate - follow-up on a controversial talk 5. Essay assignment - ask the students to respond to a quotation from the talk they have watched 6. Presentation style critique and evaluation - ask the students to consider the following questions: a. How would you describe the tone of the talk? b. What does the presenter do or say to convey his or her confidence? c. What overall impact does the speaker’s body language and eye contact have on the quality of the talk? (watching parts of the talk muted helps focus on the body language) d. In what way does the speaker use the slides? e. What elements can you identify in the structure of the talk (how does the speaker begin, develop an argument, conclude)? 7. Encourage your students to prepare their own TEDstyle talk a. Tell a unique story b. Speak from experience c. Convey a strong idea d. Be authentic and passionate e. Sound confident f. Rehearse, but do not “over rehearse” - make sure you do not sound like a presentation robot g. Leave the notes behind and be yourself Technology provides a great advantage for teachers: It can free up class time by providing tools for educators in order to create educational content that can be accessed from anywhere, thus enabling personalized learning and turning class time into an opportunity for practice, collaboration and discussion. This is known as the “flipped classroom” model.

ily become inspiring teaching content, supporting the “flipped classroom” model. This means that students become independent learners and in charge of their own learning process. They learn about new ideas by means of a foreign language, and vice versa, they learn the language while discovering those new ideas.

Flip it! The advantages of using the TED-Ed platform to create flipped lessons
It is a given that our students are digital natives. They often take the use of technology in class for granted, and they enjoy online tasks more than the ones printed on paper, even if they are exactly the same tasks. Another advantage is that TED-Ed gives students access to the lesson at any time, at their convenience. Their answers are tabulated and the instructor can provide online feedback and use student responses to generate further dialogue. And finally, lessons uploaded by any teacher can be available to any user and shared, just like the ideas promoted by the talk you chose to flip.

Teaching with TED Workshop
The TESOL Macedonia-Thrace Northern Greece committee was kind enough to offer us the opportunity to present a workshop titled “Teaching with TED Talks” at the 20th Annual Convention and also invited us to host a SEETA webchat shortly after that. Here are the links: Workshop material: http://tz.rs/ted-ed Webchat recording: http://tz.rs/tedwebchat Pre-webchat online interviews: http://tz.rs/seetakosiortzouris

TED Begets TED-Ed
In April 2012, TED launched TED-Ed, a website aimed at teachers and learners that features talks and original animated lessons based on TED talks. TED-Ed is an educational platform that allows anyone to create an online lesson, not only based on any TED or TEDx talk, but also on any YouTube video. Using TED-Ed, any video can eas-


Here are some of the TED talks we have flipped:
Matt Cutts: “Try Something New for 30 Days” An entertaining talk in which Matt Cutts encourages us to develop and maintain new habits and/or subtract old ones in order to improve the quality of our lives. http://ed.ted.com/on/8q8OAF7e Benjamin Zander: The transformative power of classical music A moving and entertaining talk about classical music, leadership and the role of a leader, and the power of positive thinking. http://ed.ted.com/on/UaFFRT6Y Richard St. John: "Success is a continuous journey" A self-described average guy who found success doing what he loved, Richard St. John spent more than a decade researching the lessons of success -- and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes and one successful book http://ed.ted.com/on/nNfuooMc Edith Widder: How we found the giant squid Edith Widder combines her expertise in research and technological innovation with a commitment to stopping and reversing the degradation of our marine environment. http://ed.ted.com/on/YL0hf8aw


TED talks recommended for an ELT classroom
1. Sir Ken Robinson: “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” A funny and engaging talk arguing that we need to change the education system so it focuses on the natural creative abilities of children. http://on.ted.com/gbZr 2. Rita Pierson: “Every Kid Needs a Champion” A call to educators to reach out to their students, connect with them, and make a difference in their lives. http://on.ted.com/caKo 3. Aimee Mullins: “The Opportunity of Adversity” Born without both shin bones and, as a result, a bilateral amputee, Aimee explains that adversity is not a limitation, but a challenge that can be overcome, or even an opportunity opening door to human potential. http://on.ted.com/baMU 4. Jamie Oliver: “Teach Every Child about Food” A talk supporting Jamie’s campaign in favor of a healthy diet and food revolution. http://on.ted.com/fbKs 5. Susan Cain: “The Power of Introverts” A compelling talk dispelling common myths regarding introversion and extroversion. http://on.ted.com/eaPD 6. Jonathan Harris: the Web's secret stories Artist and computer scientist Jonathan Harris makes online art that captures the world's expression -- and gives us a glimpse of the soul of the Internet. http://on.ted.com/gba7 7. Cameron Russell: Looks aren't everything. Believe me, I'm a model. Cameron Russell has stomped the runways for Victoria's Secret and Chanel, and has appeared in many magazines. But she is much more than just a pretty face. http://on.ted.com/qERy 8. Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight Brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor studied her own stroke as it happened -- and has become a powerful voice for brain recovery. http://on.ted.com/baNA 9. Wade Davis: Dreams from endangered cultures A National Geographic explorer celebrates the variety and diversity of the world’s indigenous peoples and cultures and tries to convince us that a language is more than just words and structures, and that storytelling can change the world. http://on.ted.com/sFVs 10. Amanda Palmer: The art of asking Alt-rock icon Amanda Fucking Palmer believes we shouldn't fight the fact that digital content is freely shareable -- and suggests that artists can and should be directly supported by fans. http://on.ted.com/gcfZ


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