Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Incorporating TED Talks into English Teaching: Grit

The main idea of this English camp is to engage students with activities that help better understand and experience how Ted talks can be beneficial to young English learners in terms of reading and speaking abilities. By keeping them busy completing the tasks collaboratively, I really hope they can experience to some extent that the purpose of learning a language is to be able to express ourselves and get our points across.

1. Four Corners
If you can have just ONE superpower to make you achieve your goals and become successful, what would you like it to be, being popular, good looks, high IQ or Grit? Students have to make their choice and get together exchanging reasons why they think this specific superpower can help them succeed. Then, I call on one or two students from each corner to share their ideas with the class.

2. TED Talks: What, Why and How
First of all, give a simple introduction to TED. Then, based on my own experience, share why TED is very helpful in improving English expression skills. Following that, with the website,, show them how you can choose the subtitle language, download video or audio files, or even the entire transcript that can serve as excellent reading material as well.

3. Watch it, Listen to it and Watch it Again
Repetition works wonders. With the main idea about the talk gained from the first activity, students are encouraged to watch attentively without knowing every single word using predicting and guessing strategies. Then, they can watch it twice more or read the transcript with and without Chinese/English subtitle so that reading and listening comprehension skills are honed accordingly. Of course, Kahoot can always motivate students to actively answer questions that help check whether they understand the talk.

With the questionnaire developed by the speaker, students can have a better understanding of how gritty they are. Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. In other words, grit is to persist in pursuing one's goals, fail, and try again and again until the job is done. After adding up all the points, students can also elaborate on some items and share personal stories with each other.

With the nine secrets of how to be a superb TED speaker, students work together to identify how many great techniques have been used in this talk by Duckworth, such as Be Passionate,  Master the Art of Storytelling, Have a Conversation, Have a Sense of Humor. Also, by watching Ken Robinson's "Do schools kill creativity?", students can also feel how powerful humor can be in a talk.

Without a doubt, these activities are specifically designed for high-level learners because there are some really difficult words for them. On top of that, due to limited life experiences, I don't think they can really relate to some of the hidden meaning behind this talk or connect with their own real-life situations. Even so, they still can have a glimpse of how to use TED talks to improve listening and reading comprehension. Furthermore, for those who signed up for the English speech contest,  they can also have a better understanding of how to deliver a good speech.

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