TED talks: beyond coursebook accents


Do you ever use TED talks in your classes? This nonprofit organisation, with the tagline ‘Ideas worth spreading’, is a great place to find interesting authentic audio. TED talks are also really useful if you want to familiarise your students with a wider range of accents than most coursebooks tend to offer (as suggested by Anne Hodgson in a comment on one of our previous posts – thanks Anne!). Here are links to 25 TED talks by speakers of English whose accents might not be represented in your students’ coursebook:

May El-Khalil (Lebanese)

May El-Khalil (L1: Arabic)

Harish Manwani (Indian)

Harish Manwani (Indian*)

N.B Information on some of the speakers’ L1 is not available, and so we have indicated their nationality instead, followed by an asterisk. Given the huge variety of L1s in a country like India (including English), we appreciate that this does not necessarily enable the listener to predict any particular features of pronunciation. However, the overarching purpose of this blog post is to simply expose learners to different voices, including different accents. If students would like a more detailed account of the distinctive features of particular L1s, they should look in Robin Walker’s book, Teaching the Pronunciation of English as a Lingua Franca, which has annotated tapescripts at the end. 

Isabel Allende (Chilean)

Isabel Allende (L1: Chilean Spanish)

Ernesto Sirolli: What to help someone? Shut up and listen! L1: Italian

Ernesto Sirolli (L1: Italian)

Zainab Salbi (Iraqi)

Zainab Salbi (L1: Arabic)

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigerian): Aid versus trade

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigerian*)

George Ayittey: Africa's cheetahs versus hippos Born in Ghana

George Ayittey (Ghanaian*)

Elif Shafak (Turkish)

Elif Shafak (L1: Turkish)

Devdutt Pattanaik: East vs. West — the myths that mystify (Indian)

Devdutt Pattanaik (Indian*)

Eva Zeisel (Hungarian-born American)

Eva Zeisel (L1: Hungarian)

Kakenya Ntaiya (Kenyan)

Kakenya Ntaiya (Kenyan*)

David Steindl-Rast (Austrian):  Want to be happy? Be grateful

David Steindl-Rast (L1: Austrian German)

Kavita Ramdas (Indian)

Kavita Ramdas (Indian*)

Sasa Vucinic (Serbian)

Sasa Vucinic (L1: Serbian)

Shabana Basij-Rasikh (Afghan)

Shabana Basij-Rasikh (Afghan*)

Matthieu Ricard (French): The habits of happiness

Matthieu Ricard (L1: French)

Aparna Rao (Indian)

Aparna Rao (Indian*)

Ajit Narayanan (Indian)

Ajit Narayanan (Indian*)

Leymah Gbowee (Liberian)

Leymah Gbowee (Liberian*)

Lisa Bu (Chinese)

Lisa Bu (L1: Chinese)

Hans Rosling (Swedish)

Hans Rosling (L1: Swedish)

Catarina Mota (Portuguese)

Catarina Mota (L1: Portuguese)

Pranav Mistry

Pranav Mistry (Indian*)

Beatrice Coron (French)

Beatrice Coron (L1: French)

Mathieu Lehanneur (French)

Mathieu Lehanneur (L1: French)



10 thoughts on “TED talks: beyond coursebook accents

  1. Thanks for highlighting these great talks. They are great models of language use for higher level students.

    I’ve always recommended using them with a transcript and have had our team produce on a TED channel as lessons that can be studied on EnglishCentral. http://www.englishcentral.com/videos#!/channel/4189-ted-talks/all/trending Students can drill down into the language of the video, practice speaking like the presenter and get full transcripts/lesson plans.

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