TED Talk ESL Listening Activity


Here is a TED Talk listening activity that will help improve students listening skills and get them talking about interesting topics in the classroom.

Student Level: Intermediate, Advanced

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Age Group: Adults

TED Talk Listening Activity

TED Talk Listening Activity Preparation:

Find a TED Talk topic related to your lesson by doing a search on TED.com. You can use their search filters on the website to find an appropriate topic and duration for the video.

TED Talk Listening Activity Guidelines:

After selecting a video for the class, you may want to pre-teach some vocabulary from the talk and familiarize the students with any difficult words. The TED website is especially useful since many of the videos have transcripts that you can use to select the vocabulary that needs extra explanation. In addition, you may also want to print off the transcripts that they provide and use them as follow-up activities. The content is so versatile for improving listening, speaking, reading, writing and other skills.

Introduce the video and have some pre-discussion about the video’s topic. Have the students discuss in groups and lead feedback. Get them to talk about their opinions in detail and have them think critically about the topic before watching the video.

Next, tell the students to pay attention to the video and to be prepared to answer a few questions related to some general points that the speaker is going to make. They can take notes if they wish.

Play the first few minutes of the video and write some questions down on some paper as you watch. You can prepare the questions beforehand if you wish, but it isn’t necessary since it may help to model the task to demonstrate to the students what they will be doing in the next stages.

Stop the video after about 2 minutes. Write the questions that you created on the board or simply ask the students directly. They can discuss the questions in groups or pairs then lead feedback.

After the first round of questions and answers, tell the students that they are going to watch the next few minutes of the video. As they are watching, they should create three or four questions related to what they have seen or heard on the video.

Un-pause the video and have them create their questions. Stop it again and the students can share their questions and ask each other in their pairs or groups. Lead feedback and repeat the tasks again until the video is completed.

Follow-Up ESL Activities:

To wrap up the TED Talk listening activity, you could have the students discuss the topics covered in the presentation further and have them express their opinions in groups. If there is enough time remaining in class, they could do a written synopsis of the TED talk and give their opinions about it in writing. If you want to focus on improving students’ description in writing, try the Five Senses Writing Activity as highlighted in our writing activities section.

View more listening activities.

View more ESL activities.


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