TED Talks have been taking the nation by storm!
These intelligent and insightful lectures have covered a whole range of subjects and topics. I’m sure you’ll have already seen some of their most popular ones.
Even if you haven’t, the talks are often shared widely on all forms of social media. You’ll have probably heard something about TED, either in your personal or professional circles.
You may not know, however, that they aren’t just an American phenomenon. In fact, they’ve now spread all around the world. And you know what that means… foreign language TED Talks are out there!
It’s time to become well acquainted with TED. Not only will this cool organization fill your head with loads of facts, but their talks can help you polish your German language skills. Here’s exactly how.
What Are TED Talks?
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and all their talks are mostly aimed at these areas of expertise. Given the massive popularity of the talks, they’ve expanded to cover all sorts of topics, including business, creativity, education and more.
The nonprofit organization hosts conferences and invites experts from various industries to give talks. The only requirement for each talk is that it must be under 18 minutes long. The whole aim of the organization is to open up all different kinds of issues, from science and business to international relations and politics.
Even though the organization has been going since 1984, the dawn of social media has allowed it to build up a large following in the last several years. Thanks to this, it’s now known around the world.
Why Use TED Talks to Better Your German
There are many talks dedicated to language learning. Watching these videos will give tips and tricks on the best way to go about learning a language.
But you don’t have to stick to just videos in English—most of the talks have been translated into over forty languages. If a talk isn’t available with German subtitles, there will be a translated script available to download.
There are many different TED Talks, covering a wide spectrum of subjects. These aren’t just any boring conference talks. Topics range from body language and inspirational leaders to sea creatures and orgasms.
One of the best parts of TED is TEDx. TEDx gives communities, organizations and experts the chance to take their talks to a local level. So, instead of every talk being held at the TED HQ, the company plans events in towns and cities around the world.
And they don’t just stick to the most obvious locations, either. These TEDx events have taken place in the likes of Kharkov, Ukraine, Seoul, South Korea and Wuhan, Switzerland. Some of these talks are in English. However, the local language is used whenever possible.
TEDx events take place all over the world and anyone can apply to be in the audience. Not in the right place at the right time? No worries. Most events—even some conferences—are streamed live as a webcast. To watch a talk live, go to the main TED website and search for your chosen TEDx event. You may not be able to join into a question and answer session, but you can still listen to all the talks in full.
How to Learn German with TED Talks
If you’re already confident in your German and consider yourself an advanced learner, you should be all right diving straight into each video. There may be the odd technical word that you stumble on.
Apart from that though, you’ll find the speaking very clear and the language manageable. As each talk is aimed at a wider audience, the spoken German is often a lot slower than in regular speech. This helps novices in the subject keep up to speed with what’s going on. Sometimes, the speaker may not be a native German. If so, their accented language may be hard to follow at first. However, stick with it and give your ear time to adjust.
If you’re an intermediate learner, you may find it best to watch the original English version of your chosen video. You can also see if the German script is available online. If so, print it out and read through it and circle any parts you aren’t so sure of. Take your time to use dictionaries and grammar books to figure out these tricky bits. Once you understand the script, place it to one side and turn on the video. Now that you have an idea of the background and topics in the talk, you’ll be able to follow the spoken German better.
Almost every talk originally in English has been translated into various languages, so you should be able to find a translated German version either on the TED website or on YouTube. Don’t forget, you can always tune in live on the day of the talk if it’s being streamed as a webcast!
So which German TED Talks should you be getting sucked into? Here are five of our favorites.
The 5 Best TED Talks in German for Language Learning
1. Komfortzone Zukunft (The Future of the Comfort Zone)
Professor Doctor Gunter Dueck gave his talk called Komfortzone Zukunft (The Future of the Comfort Zone) as part of the TEDxRheinMain conference. It looks at how humans adapt to change in their lives. Dueck has done a couple of talks for TED. If you enjoy this one, have a listen to some of his others.
- die Psychologie des Wandels – the psychology of change
- dressieren – to train / drill
- die Erziehung – education / upbringing
- die Wutgefühle – feelings of anger
- die Vernunft – rationality
2. Think Like a Designer
At TEDxBerlin Erik Spiekermann spoke about the whole concept of redesigning design. The German typographer is known for having designed typefaces that are now seen as modern classics.
- umdenken – to rethink
- die Schriftart – typeface
- das Konzept – concept
- die Kreativität – creativity
- der Grafiker – the designer
3. Ambiguitätstoleranz (Ambiguity Tolerance)
Dr. Jivka Ovtcharova is a scientist at the Karslruhe Institute for Technology. Her talk, Ambiguitätstoleranz (Ambiguity Tolerance) took place during TEDxKoeln.
This talk looks at the roles emotions play, and how we can use virtual reality to find the space between the invisible and visible in our world.
- unsichtbar – invisible
- virtuelle Realität – virtual reality
- die Informatik – computer science
- die Identität – identity
- der Mensch – human / person
4. Poetry Slammer
MATZE B is a slam poet. His talk at TEDxBodensee looked at the art behind spoken word poems and poetry slams. He also covers his journey from being a poet in a small journey to ending up a German teacher.
- die Dichtung – poetry
- die Literatur – literature
- die Wortakrobatik – word acrobatics
- entdecken – to discover
- dichten – to write poetry / to write verses
5. Auf Holz Gebaut (Made of Wood)
At TEDxSalzburg, Hubert Rhomberg, co-founder and owner of the international construction company Rhomberg Gruppe, spoke about sustainable construction.
Rhomberg has developed a wood-hybrid building method for building houses. He talks about this and many other efficient and sustainable building systems that can help us create a greener future.
- das Holz – wood
- nachhaltig – sustainable
- das Bauwesen – architecture / the building industry
- die Effizienz – efficiency
- die Ressourcen – resources
There are plenty more TED Talks auf Deutsch out there.
Let us know about any other cool ones you come across!
And One More Thing…
If you like the idea of learning German with TED Talks, you’ll love FluentU.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the German language and culture over time. You’ll learn German as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU brings native videos within reach using interactive transcripts.
Just tap on any subtitled word to see an in-context definition, usage examples and a helpful illustration.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s Learn Mode. Simply swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends examples and videos to you based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.