I’m sure you have all heard of TED talks but do you know the many ways they can help you with your language learning? Were you aware that there is even a dedicated TED IELTS website with video lessons, exam tips and grammar advice primarily dedicated to students preparing for their exam?
TED is actually an incredible resource for language learners, especially IELTS students, for a number of reasons.
- The talks are interesting: you can find speakers talking on just about every topic under the sun so there is something for everyone and it’s far easier to focus on and learn from a subject that interests you.
- They are current: the topics covered are the sort of thing that could come up for discussion in your Writing or Speaking tests and are subjects about which you may have to express your views and opinions.
- You will hear a wide range of vocabulary in context: not only will this increase your vocabulary bank, it is likely to be very useful language for the two tests mentioned above.
- They are great models for good pronunciation: you will be able to hear many features of natural spoken English, such as intonation and connected speech.
- They help you improve your listening skills: you will experience how a good speech is organised, learn to follow long monologues and to pick out main ideas and specific details.
Here are some suggestions of how you can use TED lectures for study purposes and exam preparation:
• While listening, pause the recording from time to time and try to predict what you might hear next.
• At the end, consider which predictions were correct and which were different.
• While listening, make notes or write down key words.
• At the end, use them to write a summary of the main points.
• While listening, write down any signposting language the speaker uses to structure the stages of the talk and signal to the audience the transition between ideas.
• At the end, add them to your summary.
• While listening, note down topic-specific vocabulary and lexis. Try to guess the meaning of unknown words from context.
• At the end, use the transcript in your own language (if provided) to compare translations. Record new lexis – as always – in a notebook with its definition, a translation, an example sentence to show the word in context and other forms of the word, such as its adverbial or adjective form, a synonym and an antonym, etc.
• While listening, take note of any phrases or expressions used to persuade the audience of a point of view or to emphasise the speaker’s perspective.
• At the end, find and highlight this language in the English transcript and make a note of these for use in your Speaking and Writing tests.
• While listening, pay attention to the introduction and conclusion parts of the talk. Pause and rewind the recording if necessary.
• At the end, try paraphrasing the introduction and conclusion (use the English transcript as a prompt).
• While listening, focus on pronunciation. Pause and repeat parts of the talk. Read the English transcript at the same time and mark elements of connected speech, weak forms, intonation, etc.
• At the end, use the English transcript and practise reading aloud, paying attention to the pronunciation notes you made.
Finally, remember too that you can write in the Comments section underneath each video and this provides a good opportunity to summarise, paraphrase, discuss and debate any ideas from the talk with other viewers.
On the TED IELTS website there is a collection of the best TED lectures paired with material to help improve your IELTS score, including post-listening activities that focus on vocabulary or follow-on tasks like summarising, listing advantages/disadvantages, etc. This means you don’t have to think of ways to use the material yourself; instead you are guided.
Here is a link to the TED IELTS website.
Here is a website with some great TED talks specifically about languages and learning, to get you started.
I hope you enjoy them!