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Home » Blog » 4 TED Talks for Educators Interested in Language

4 Inspiring TED Talks for Educators Interested in Language

Watch these fascinating TED Talks to spark your interest in language and culture.


We’ve put together a playlist of thought-provoking TED Talks for educators interested in all things relating to language. From inspiring personal stories of how a language changed a young student’s future to why we should embrace our mother tongue and historical culture.

Education is a fundamental right for every child

This inspiring TED talk welcomes Makhtoum Abdalla, who was displaced as a child in Sudan and now lives with his family in the Otash camp in Darfur. He talks about his journey so far and the huge impact education and learning languages has had on his life. His own experiences led him to pursue his dreams to study nutrition and medicine at college. He views education as a way to ‘make our future more secure and our present more peaceful’.

Learning languages makes me feel powerful, as they challenge my mind. And it also makes me feel I can communicate with other people, which is important to a connected and equitable world. And also, it’s one of the many ways that can bring us all together as humans.

– Makhtoum Abdalla

4 reasons to learn a new language

English is quickly becoming the world’s universal language, and instant translation technology is improving every year. So why should we invest time and energy into learning a foreign language? Linguist and Columbia professor John McWhorter shares four reasons why – from totally immersing yourself into a new culture, to reducing the chances of developing dimetia.

So I highly recommend that you teach yourself languages other than the one that I’m speaking, because there’s never been a better time to do it. It’s an awful lot of fun. It won’t change your mind, but it will most certainly blow your mind.

– John McWhorter

How language shapes the way we think

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” William Shakespeare used this line in the famous Romeo and Juliet to convey that the naming of things is irrelevant. Cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky explains how that suggests that maybe language doesn’t craft reality in Shakespeare’s opinion.

In this interesting TED talk, Lera shares examples of languages and their differing structures and vocabularies. Lera suggests, through examples and research, that they can shape the way we think. One example includes how an Aboriginal community in Australia uses cardinal directions instead of left and right and uses this method to think about time. “The beauty of linguistic diversity is that it reveals to us just how ingenious and how flexible the human mind is,” Boroditsky says.

Don’t kill your language

This insightful TED talk by Suzanne Talhouk gives a lot of thought as to why we should love and celebrate our own languages, as well as learn new ones.

Language isn’t just for conversing, just words coming out of our mouths. Language represents specific stages in our lives, and terminology that is linked to our emotions.

– Suzanne Talhouk

Language in Education Frequently Asked Questions


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