von Bruce Ranney, Fachbereich Technische Betriebswirtschaft, Hagen
TED talks: The Healthy Internet Fast Food.
The internet is filled with countless video clips waiting to be devoured. Some aim to inform, others are supposed to be entertaining, and then there are those that fulfill both purposes. TED talks fall into the last of these categories.
TED talks provide the person who wants to improve or maintain their English with an informative and fun treat for doing just that. Like fast food, it requires very little work to get it (turn on your computer), costs very little (free) and is great when you do not have a lot of time (a typical talk lasts about 8 minutes).
What is a TED talk?
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design and is a global set of conferences that deal with scientific, cultural and academic topics. The slogan of these conferences is Ideas Worth Spreading. Viewed more than a billion times, you could think of the talks as a sort of “Presentations Greatest Hits.”
How can they help?
TED talks can help English language learners in a variety of ways. As you probably suspected, there are talks about how we learn languages and others that teach you about linguistics in general. The transcripts of each TED talk are available and can be used to look up unfamiliar vocabulary words. It is possible as well to activate a subtitle function, which, if you choose English (as opposed to German) works like bicycle training wheels (Stützräder). Watching a talk in which you have not only an audio but visual input makes it considerably easier to comprehend. This may not be needed when you watch an inspirational TEDmed (TED talks on medical themes) from Ed Gavagan, who speaks slowly and clearly, but can be especially useful when trying to follow Theo E.J. Wilson as he presents a very unique and engaging take on overcoming racism. (Sorry, no spoilers, you’ll have to watch it yourself.) With time, you will find that the subtitles become less and less necessary and receive confirmation that your listening comprehension has indeed improved!
A few recommendations
Amazing scientific: Yoav Medan’s TED talk about surgery with no knives involved. A fascinating look at a technique that uses MRI to find trouble spots and focused ultrasound to treat such issues as brain lesions, uterine fibroids and several kinds of cancerous growths.
Very funny: A hilarious narration from James Veitch of a weeks-long exchange with a spammer who had offered to cut him in on a super “deal.” Anyone who has received such a suspicious email will enjoy this.
Scientific and funny: Tim Urban examines how the brain of a procrastinator works. A high tech look at a serious problem effecting millions and millions of people. This is a must see for anyone has problems with deadlines or finds themselves putting off unpleasant tasks.