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7 TED Talks That Will Motivate You to Learn a New Language

ElzetteOctober 14, 2019

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I recently discovered the motivational power of TED Talks and I am officially a fan!

TED promotes the spread of ideas through short, powerful talks on a vast range of topics, including my favourite one: language learning.

Here are seven TED Talks that will inspire you to pick up a foreign language.

The secrets of learning a new language – Lýdia Machová

Why do some people just seem to have a knack for learning languages? Are they savants? Or just naturally talented? Lýdia Machová shares some of the secrets of polyglots and explains how anyone can unleash their hidden language-learning potential. 


How language shapes the way we think – Lera Boroditsky

Do languages shape our perceptions of the world? Cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky believes so. In this fascinating presentation, Boroditsky offers examples of how language can profoundly shape the way we think.

You can read more of Lera’s research here.


Don’t insist on English – Patricia Ryan

In this talk, ESL teacher Patricia Ryan makes a compelling case for how the rise of English as a global language is hindering the spread of great ideas in other languages.


The benefits of a bilingual brain – Mia Nacamulli

We all know that learning another language can introduce us to new cultures, friends and business opportunities. But did you know that being bilingual is actually linked to healthy cognitive development?  Mia Nacamulli highlights some of the many benefits of the bilingual brain in this talk.


4 reasons to learn a new language – John McWhorter

With English well on its way to becoming the world’s universal language and rapid advances being made in translation technologies, communication is easier than ever. So, why bother to learn a foreign language? Linguist John McWhorter shares four reasons why you should study a second (or third!) language.


Learn to read Chinese… with ease! – ShaoLan Hsueh

Chinese has a bad rep for being a difficult language to master, especially for Western learners.  ShaoLan demystifies Chinese characters by teaching you how to recognise the various radicals, or ‘building blocks’, that will allow you to learn more characters with little effort. She calls it Chineasy.

Buy the Chineasy book here.


Feats of memory anyone can do – Joshua Foer

This TED Talk is not directly related to learning a language, but it does deal with something everyone who’s ever had to cram vocabulary will be interested in: memory.

Science writer Joshua Foer introduces a memory technique called the ‘memory palace’ and explains how anyone can use this method to help them remember just about anything.

You can buy Joshua Foer’s book, Moonwalking with Einstein, here.



Do you have a good TED Talk to recommend? Let me know!

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7 TED Talks That Will Motivate You to Learn a New Language

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