Teaching English Presentation Skills Using TED talks

Language Learning Online Education Teaching Online

Presenting in English has become important in any field in the 21st Century. There was a time when standing at a podium and reading from a script was good enough. Then came the invention of the PowerPoint slideshow.  Presenters didn’t have to say much, just show slides for people to read.

In today’s world that is not enough. To be an effective presenter, one must master all that media has to offer. With English evolving as an international language, it has become even more important for our students to be able to effectively present in English. Not only do they have to master the language, but present well-made slide shows that include good graphics, video as well as proper text which enhance their talk (not replace it).

Teaching English is hard, English presentation skills even harder. But if you have a plan in place, effective supporting content and the right technology, you can help learners quickly gain effective presentation skills. Using Ted talks for this is a great idea. Read further to know how Judy Wong, an English teacher, writer and a visual artist makes it possible.

Steps to Teach English Presentation Skills

In her English Presentation Skills classes, she asks her students to work towards an ultimate goal of a major presentation. The theme of the presentation is based on the individual interests. She found that by constructing her lessons around achieving this goal, learners:

1) work towards improving the intelligibility in their speaking skills,

2) understand the importance of using good graphics and other media in enhancing their presentation as well as how to use it effectively,

3) learn to use the written language to effectively communicate their ideas in their presentations, and

4) practice conversational and listening skills during the question and answer session conducted after the presentations

Using TED Talks to Gain English Presentation Skills

“I love using TED talks to achieve this ultimate goal with my students”, says Judy. She begins by defining the theme of the presentations and then follows these steps:

#1 Selecting a Theme: She asks her students find TED talks on this theme. Sometimes, I will choose the talk when there is limited time.

#2 Listening to TED Talks: They review the talks and actually use the transcripts to understand.

#3 Walking the Talk: They practice performing the talk, which gives them vocabulary and volumes of language to help them express themselves in their presentations.

#4 Learning to Research: The next step is to learn how to choose and research their topic. They are required to turn in a written paper on the topic to go with their presentation. This ensures that they are well versed in their topic.

#5 Making Presentations: Asking learners to make mini-presentations of different aspects of their topics as a lead to the final complete presentation.

#6 Reviewing: With each mini-presentation, their skills are peer critiqued and discussed. We look at the media chosen and discuss if it was effective or extraneous. They are assessed for intelligibility in their speech by their peers.

Why TED Talks?

Judy chooses TED talks for her students because:

1) These are some of the most effective presentations, according to her.

2) These help learners understand what makes someone a good speaker.

3) Learners can identify what made the speaker interesting and compelling to listen to.

4) They can assess whether the media chosen to enhance the talk was effective or not.

Judy makes it mandatory to read this post for her students. For this goal they are required to read:

1) 10 Tips for Better Slide Decks

2) How to Give a Killer Presentation

Using these TED talks they learn volumes of vocabulary and idioms. Most important, they can find talks in almost any subject or theme.


Judy Wong

Judy Wong is a performing artist, a visual artist, a writer and foremost an English teacher to speakers of other languages. She is currently an Adjunct Faculty at a few Universities in New York City, USA.

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