Watch TED to watch your English improve

Stop watching American films! Stop watching TV series!

Forget programmes like Game of Thrones and Vikings if you think they’re going to help your language skills to get better! In our opinion, these are the worst ways to help your language develop, watch TED to improve your English!

If there’s too much choice for you, please take a look at our list of recommended talks.

What is TED?

TED is an international conference that brings together specialists from all kinds of fields and asks them to share the benefit of their experience with a highly intelligent audience. The talks are limited to a maximum of 20 minutes and many talks are only 5-10 minutes long.

Over 100 Languages

The TED website is an amazing resource for language learners because it has excellent translations of all the talks and sometimes there are additional materials available from their website. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, if you watch TED to improve your English, you’ll gain all kinds of benefits as well as find high quality, extra resources produced in your mother tongue.

Subtitles and Translations

There is a page listed here which shows the number of talks available for each language and all of them come with verified translations. The quality of the subtitles makes a big difference when you want to learn another language! The teamwork that must go into the productions of their translations must be considerable, they clearly have a meticulous eye for detail.

Endless Variety

If you want something to watch in the evening, then you simply need to watch TED to improve your English at the same time. The website is excellent because it’s overflowing with content and everyone can find subjects they are already interested in or directly affected by. There’s simply no end to the possibilities, if you can’t find a talk that you find interesting, it’s YOU that’s the problem. You must be really boring!

What’s so bad about watching films and TV series?

So, you want to just lie back on your bed and relax while hearing some English, you may ask what the problem is… why shouldn’t you just chill out and watch the products of Hollywood?

Well, firstly, in your relaxed, passive state, you will get more and more comfortable with not understanding what’s going on. You can actually get used to not understanding and become comfortable with that state. Although there always needs to be a tolerance of being confused (it’s an important aspect of learning any language), getting used to letting things go can just reinforce the experience of being lost.

The Nature of Scripts

The trouble is that the English you’re hearing is NOT natural English. If you think about how a story is made into a film, thousands of pages are summarised to just a few thousand words of spoken dialogue in order to convey the narrative. The process of reducing so much information into such an edited breakdown means that there’s no space for the natural flow of language. It’s very rare to hear conversations like the ones we hear in films. This means that the language is more like poetry – and poetry breaks all the rules of language by definition!

IELTS

Many IELTS students want to find good material to watch which can help their studies and TED is the perfect place to find sources in your specific field. It doesn’t matter what speciality you have, you will find experts in your subject talking on the TED website. Only the most experienced and accredited people are invited to contribute so you can be certain to find quality information from a wide variety of speakers, all using natural English.

Not only can you work on your English, you can also inform yourself about the most up-to-date developments in your field of interest. If you’re an architect, engineer, scientist or business person, you will find a huge selection of informative presentations. It can also be an excellent way to get ideas for how to improve your own presentations. Just watch TED to improve your English and also see your general knowledge expand. It’s really the best way to place yourself on the cutting edge in all respects.

Different Accents and Voices

The huge variety of accents you’ll hear on TED is also very helpful, there are speakers from every country you can imagine. Instead of only listening to the voices of British and American actors pretending to be medieval characters and heroes, you can hear normal, educated people, like you, sharing their ideas, their research, their experience and their conclusions.

Superlatives and The Present Perfect

This weekend I had fun with my daughters recording some answers to questions using superlatives and the present perfect. It might be difficult to understand them because they have a way of speaking which is typical for young English girls at the moment: nearly every word is followed by “like”, which they also use as a form of punctuation. It will be interesting to see how many of you can understand what they’re saying!

The present perfect is a great way to find out about people’s life experiences. It doesn’t provide much detail, for that we use the past simple. Superlatives are also limited in their interest, we don’t always want to talk about the best, the worst, the most or least, but they do give us an idea of the highlights and lowlights of our experiences.