5 TEDx Talks That Inspire Language Learning

We've gathered 5 TEDx Talks that cover a variety of techniques you can apply to your own language learning journey. Browse through the videos and our summaries to extract the techniques that speak to you. Enjoy!

1. Deborah Fallows

Deborah Fallows is certain that adults can learn foreign languages. In this speech she talks about "how you can use your very powerful adult brain to learn something that is pretty difficult and also quite amazing, a foreign language, and especially Chinese."

2. Benny Lewis

Today Benny Lewis speaks over 10 languages. At age twenty-one he knew just one, English, but not for lack of trying. Benny had spent six months abroad in Spain yet learned nothing. He says he had to change his attitude and approach before he could learn a second language, let alone become a polyglot. Benny says the key was having passion for exploring a given language. Here's a list of his key points:

  1. Be passionate about the target language and connecting with the people who speak it
  2. Use spaced repetition and image association techniques like the memory palace, especially helpful when studying Chinese characters
  3. Make 200 mistakes a day, go out there and embarrass yourself
  4. Don't wait until you speak the language perfectly to get out there and use what you know

3. Sid Efromoivh

Sid Efromoivh shares his love for language learning plus five techniques he uses to study a language including making mistakes, finding a 'stickler', and using what he calls "shower conversations."

4. Dr. Conor Quinn

Dr. Quinn's advice on language acquisition is simple:

  1. Aim for effectiveness vs perfection
  2. Check your shame at the door and learn linguistic coping skills like talking around words you don't yet know
  3. Learn the mechanics of the mouth in a given language vs the sound itself
  4. Study rhythm, melody and cadence of a language - internalize the cadence
  5. Start learning from the egocentric experience of the body - for example, "my eyes they see and look, my ears they listen they hear, my hands they pick up they put down, my mind it feels it loves it thinks"

5. Josh Kaufman

In this speech, Josh explains how 20 hours of study can yield impressive results.

  1. Deconstruct the skill to the core parts that interest you
  2. Get resources that help you self-correct
  3. Remove distractions and give yourself time to do this one learning task for 45-90min
  4. Stick it out for at least 20 hours even if you feel like you are getting nowhere

Did you find these videos helpful? Do you have any questions you'd like clarified? Leave your thoughts and questions in the Comment section on this page and we'll reply.

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