Wednesday, February 22, 2017

TED Talks Do It The Other Way. Beyond the Message - Report on Eftichis Kantarakis's Session

Most teachers believe that TED Talks are an excellent source of inspiration only and limit themselves in using them as such. But Mr Eftichis Kantarakis proved in his workshop that TED Talks can be used in a variety of ways and can offer the opportunity to create memorable lessons. The room was packed and the ideas presented really inspirational.

The presentation started with some sources like , and where some really interesting ideas can be found on how to create a lesson using TED Talks. Then Mr Kantarakis asked the audience some questions trying to spark some reflection. Some of the questions were “what is TED?”, “who has a TED Talk in a language class?”, “what does TED stand for?”,  “how are TED Talks useful for language teaching?” which of course he answered later.

                                                                                                                  photo by Dimitra Christopoulou

TED stands for ‘Technology Entertainment Design’ as he explained and he went on giving some general information concerning TED and how it started. Then he wondered how we can use these talks in our lessons. He suggested that we can exploit the message of a talk which can lead to speaking and writing activities and that it is excellent for project work. Of course there are already many online lesson plans available.

In the next part of his presentation Mr Kantarakis presented some activities that teachers can use. He started with the ‘Instant TED’ activity which is a short talk played in class with L1 subtitles, then with L2 subtitles and a third time with no subtitles at all. Then students are asked to create two comprehension and two discussion questions and afterwards in groups decide on the best three questions and discuss them.

The second activity he presented was ‘TED Lite’. In this activity each student chooses a talk and prepares a one-page report. Then students prepare a handout and in groups they present their reports.

The third activity was ‘TED Listening’. In this activity students must listen carefully to a talk and prepare listening activities which have to do both with the grammar and the content of the talk.

                                                                                                                               photo by Efi Tzouri

The forth and final activity was ‘TED Video Circles’. This is an activity that moves over several lessons. Students are divided into groups of four. There is one group leader in each lesson that chooses the TED Talk and prepares a worksheet. There are multiple groups who review and discuss the worksheets. Afterwards, students are paired with different group members and in the final stage there is an all-class wrap-up.

Mr Kantarakis stressed that TED Talks offer authentic listening skills. Students become able to understand mid-sentence changes and how speakers rephrase ideas which are all features of native speech. Also, they become able to understand the rhythm and stress because they listen to fast native speech and they have to become able to distinguish the content words. He also said that TED Talks can be used for Flipped classrooms. Students can be taught new vocabulary and about the register and the serious and funny parts. Here Ken Robinson’s talk, which is one of the most successful ones in the history of TED was used as an example. Finally, TED Talks can be used to focus on Lexis, Grammar or Functional Language.

Mr Kantarakis concluded his presentation by claiming that TED Talks are an excellent source of Text, that they practice real language and real skills and that they should not be viewed as a source of inspiration only.

(note: "Instant TED", "TED Lite", "TED Listening" and "TED Video Circles" were borrowed from " Global Issues Integrated into EFL Classes” by Floyd H. Graham III and John W. Wilson who presented them at TESOL France in 2016)

Report by Emmanuel Kontovas 

Interview with Eftichis Kantarakis by Efi Tzouri

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