Remix TED Resources to Teach English Around the World

Remix TED Resources to Teach English Around the World

A few days ago a friend of mine who also teaches in Italy asked me whether I could help her look for materials she could share with the foreign language teachers at the school. They wanted to remix the materials and turn them into Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) resources.

As a teacher of English as a foreign language to university students majoring in a variety of subjects, I find TED Talks extremely useful to provide authentic listening on a variety of topics ranging from technology, entertainment and design to economics, biology and the role of women in the world, to mention but a few. Now TED offers these other sites:

  • TEDyouth  Videos from the TEDyouth conferences could certainly be used with secondary school pupils.
  • TEDx  The advent of TEDx — independently organised TED-like events in the whole world — has also extended the languages of the talks beyond English. This is good news for teachers of other languages.
  • TED-Ed  A different but related source of materials that we looked at are the lessons included in the TED-Ed website. These are OER which are designed to teach a variety of subjects. Most are more suitable to secondary than tertiary education and, although they are not designed to teach English as a foreign language, they could easily be transformed into resources for CLIL). In any case, the exceptional opportunity provided within the website – “flipping” the lesson, in other words, adapting it to a different context – makes such adaptations to the foreign language classroom particularly easy to share. A key element in this is, of course, the Creative Commons Licence of the resources.

Here’s one TED-Ed lesson that my friend particularly liked: “How folding paper can get you to the Moon.”

Not only is this an intriguing math story, and a stimulating way to introduce the concept of exponential growth, but in terms of  language teaching, it offers authentic examples of  conditional sentences. The fact that the author, Adrian Paenza, is not a native English speaker makes this lesson particularly appropriate.

My friend and I welcome your help in recommending other open educational resources which are appropriate for CLIL, especially in languages other than English. Thanks!

Ana1Ana Beaven is a teacher of English as a foreign language at CILTA, the University of Bologna language Centre. In 2012 she organised the Eurocall CMC & Teacher Education SIGs Annual Workshop on the subject of “Learning through Sharing: Open Resources, Open Practices, Open Communication.” 


  1. Thanks for this post, Ana. I am a huge fan of TED Talks and TED-Ed! Personally, I think that TED-Ed is one of the most user-friendly platforms for teachers to author their own lessons. The flipping feature that you mention should prove especially attractive to FL teachers. I didn’t know about the TEDyouth conferences. Looks like the TED phenomenon keeps growing.

    • Hi Carl, indeed I hope that language teachers, particularly those involved in CLIL, will begin to upload their “flipped” lessons onto the TED-Ed website. There is great potential there! The same with TEDyouth – a wonderful way of presenting stimulating talks to younger students, AND getting them to realise that the foreign language is a means, not an end to itself!

  2. An important point that wasn’t mentioned in the post is how TED-Ed platform interfaces with YouTube. The platform isn’t just for TED videos but for any open YouTube video. And there are millions in hundreds of languages. Pretty incredible resource.

    • You’re right, Carl. In fact, last year we uploaded the videos from TEDxBologna (in Italian), which can certainly be used as open resources for teaching Italian as a second or foreign language…

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