Lisa's week

lisas week teaser

Lisa's week: TED – Ideas Worth Spreading

“What can I do to practice my English in my free time?”

“Where can I go to hear or watch authentic English language outside the classroom?”

“What can you recommend for me to improve my understanding of different types of English vocabulary?”

“I struggle to understand my native speaking colleagues as well as those from other countries when they speak English with strong accents. What can I do at home to improve my understanding?”

I’m returning to the subject of where to go to continue English language practice outside the classroom as this is definitely a topic that I’m asked about very often. We touched on some of the publications I recommend in week 37 (you can find it here) as well as podcasts but today I’d like to talk about a source of interesting, varied videos that could definitely be used as a support to your English lessons.

TED is a non-profit organisation which was set up in 1984 and whose mission is to spread ideas through short, focussed, high-quality talks of around 18 minutes at TED Conferences. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design but these days, the talks range from science, to business, to hard-hitting topics, to comedy all the way through to global topics. Events are held around the world but luckily for us, there are thousands of talks available in video (or audio form as podcasts) on their website I think there’s also an app available for automatic download of talks or videos to your own smartphone if that’s a more convenient form for you.

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start and my main advice to you is just to start somewhere, anywhere. Pick a video on the website which looks interesting and give it a try. Try using some search criteria for a particular topic or just enjoy the random order that they are presented to you on the site. But just start. And keep at it! I have to admit that I mostly listen to TED talks on my phone while I’m driving so I don’t control the topics I’m listening to. However, most of them are really so interesting and many of those are on subjects I would never have thought about looking for online or picking out to listen - I’m learning new things about the world out there all the time.

The presenters for the main TED conferences are handpicked, work for a long time to produce their talk and are very high quality presenters. The fact that the talks are in English is the key to them being useful for you to practice. Almost all the presenters speak a clear, high-quality English even if it’s not their first language and I think this is a great way for you to become more familiar with different accents and more complex language.

Now, some of you might be thinking that your English is not good enough to just listen and understand and my advice to you is that 18 minutes once or twice a week is not a lot of time to find. You might well not understand some of it – or sometimes, most of it – but the practice itself of hearing the language in this way is good for you. You will help yourself to become more familiar with the language just through listening or watching. Sometimes you might think that you’ve understood nothing at all, but your brain is still working on the language without you realising and the videos with slides or supporting visuals can help you put the pieces together. You might even enjoy them!

These videos can’t replace your lessons but they can be useful as homework or just a fun way to keep the language fresh in your mind between your lessons. So why not give them a try?

And what’s my favourite video, you might ask? I’m just going to say that if you look for the video about the master procrastinator, you might be on the right track!


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question

Episode 45: The whole world's going green!

Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 47: The joke's on you!

Episode 48: Left over from the Middle Ages!

Episode 49: More calendar food-based ponderings

Episode 50: We use German words too

Episode 51: Celebrating St George

Episode 52: The perfect start to the day

Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)

Episode 54: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)

Episode 55: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)

Episode 56: Holiday season is coming!

Episode 57; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 1

Episode 58; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 2

Episode 59: Summer Solstice

Episode 60: Harry Potter turns 20

Episode 61: Quick Tip of the Week - live, life, live

Episode 62: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Episode 63:  I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Episode 64: Stick a stamp on it!

Episode 65: Idiom of the week - Water under the bridge

Episode 66: I say QWERTY, you say QWERTZ

Episode 67: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 1)

Episode 68: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 2)

Episode 69: Joking around in Scotland

Episode 70: The first day of school

Episode 71: Let's go down to the Wiesn!

Episode 72: Celebrating language

Episode 73: It's a Harry thing!

Episode 74: My favourite time of the year