Excellent TED Talks for Language Learners

TED Talks can be powerful tools for language learners – those short talks where someone shares information in 18 minutes or less. The goal of TED Talks has always been to spread good ideas. With over 2,600 different talks available for viewing, you can find a talk on just about anything.

TED Talks are available in over 100 different languages, so you can always test your fluency that way. But if you want to dig deeper into the actual science of learning languages, here are some fantastic talks to check out.

1. Four Reasons to Learn a New Language

In this talk, John McWhorter shares four reasons why you should learn a new language. Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to learn, but his are pretty compelling. He's also funny, and the whole talk will take you less than 10 minutes to get through.

2. The Secrets of Learning a New Language

Lydia Machova is a language dynamo. She speaks eight different languages and here she shares her research. She interviewed different polyglots (people who speak multiple languages) to see how they go about learning. She found that the common thread between multiple approaches is that polyglots find a way to make learning fun. You’ll love hearing the different ideas that she (and others) have to make the path to fluency more enjoyable.

Photo Credit: Kelly Sikema / Unsplash

3. Why We Struggle Learning New Languages

Have you ever heard that language learning is only for the young? In this TED Talk, Gabriel Wyner helps to dispel that myth. He shares how he’s mastered languages, and intersperses amusing personal anecdotes.

4. How to Learn Any Language Easily

Matthew Youlden shares some simple and easy steps to learning a new language, while debunking some common myths. Matthew has one core belief: that learning a language is easy. This belief has helped him learn more languages, and maybe he'll convince you!

5. Five Techniques to Speak Any Language

While you may not want to speak seven languages like Sid Efromovich, you'll love what he has to say about learning. He wants you to get over your fear of making mistakes and take the jump into the unknown. This talk is super collaborative with the audience, and sort of feels like you're being taken through a fun language class.

6. Breaking the Language Barrier

Tim Doner was a teen phenom in the language learning world, speaking over 20 different languages. His TED Talk is charming and funny. He hammers home the point that fluency is more than just being able to memorize and repeat words.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

7. One Simple Method to Learn Any Language

Want to hear a simple method to learn any language? Then check out this TED Talk. Scott Young and Vat Jaiswal share their hypothesis on why learners may find a language difficult at first, but then can break through to a new level where the frustration and fear are gone. Their method is based on one big experiment. They both tried to learn four different languages over the course of one year - and did it.

8. The Benefits of the Bilingual Brain

This talk explains the benefits of a bilingual brain versus that of a monolingual brain. If you're looking for more information on why a second language keeps your brain healthy and engaged, this talk breaks it down.

9. Lost in Translation

If your desire to learn a language is based around your travel experience and a yearning to more deeply connect with a certain culture, you’ll love this talk by Janesh Rahlan. It's all about bridging cultures and using language to enhance how you understand your life.

If you’re ready to pick up or continue your foreign language studies, check out the fun and conversation-based courses at Fluent City.