TED videos for Business English, Part I (Making Decisions)

Turn and Hold, Plate 2
Vicki Hollett recently mentioned a trouble I often hear being voiced by teachers who are trying to source samples of high quality, authentic Non-Native-English-Speakers speaking English and my tip, of course,  is that you can usually find quite a number of these on the adult-educational-deeper thinking-video-sites.

The other day, I finally finished putting together a post which had been lying around in draft for absolutely ages: Speaking Tips for using TED videos in class, conversation prompters, and so given Vicki's question, I thought, along with these dogme2.0-type suggestions I really should get around to organizing all the videos I've downloaded in the past, stored on my computer, used in classes, set as homework~put up as online discussion topics on my Ning(s), watched alongside students... and share with you the ones we've liked best!

I've sorted them into related topics to make it easier for you to share them with your own adult languge learners.  As often as I can - each Thursday/Friday -  I'll load up more of them, in a series of posts.  If you've any suggestions or recommendations from other sources on the same themes, don't hesitate to provide us with the links!   

I recommend either printing out a copy of this post , using the addthis/bookmark button at the bottom of this post, saving/ bookmarking / emailing yourself this page... (to find the links again later on in TED.com).

This week's Business English themes include:

Choices, Decision-making, Negotiating, Strategic-thinking

The art of choosing
Sheena Iyengar studies how we make choices -- and how we feel about the choices we make. She talks about both trivial choices (Coke v. Pepsi) and profound ones, and shares her groundbreaking research that has uncovered some surprising attitudes about our decisions.

The paradox of choice
Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

Are we in control of our own decisions? 
Behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational, uses classic visual illusions and his own counterintuitive (and sometimes shocking) research findings to show how we're not as rational as we think when we make decisions.

A monkey economy as irrational as ours
Laurie Santos looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. A clever series of experiments in "monkeynomics" shows that some of the silly choices we make, monkeys make too.

How we read each other's minds
Sensing the motives and feelings of others is a natural talent for humans. But how do we do it? Here, Rebecca Saxe shares fascinating lab work that uncovers how the brain thinks about other peoples' thoughts -- and judges their actions.

See also blog post and discussion on Vicki Hollett's blog regarding theories of the mind and issues related to this video - both post and comments hold potentially good conversation starter-type questions.

The walk from "no" to "yes"
William Ury, author of "Getting to Yes," offers an elegant, simple (but not easy) way to create agreement in even the most difficult situations -- from family conflict to, perhaps, the Middle East.

Carl Honore praises slowness
Journalist Carl Honore believes the Western world's emphasis on speed erodes health, productivity and quality of life. But there's a backlash brewing, as everyday people start putting the brakes on their all-too-modern lives.

Hope you enjoyed these as much as we did! 

Which was your favourite?

Write a lesson plan based on using one of these videos (or any other that refers to the subject of decision making) and post this up on your own website or blog.  Alternatively, upload the LP into a document sharing site (e.g scribd/ slideshare/ google docs and let us all know the URL in the comments below.

Part II, TED videos: success / failure
Part III, TED videos: motivation

11 Responses to “TED videos for Business English, Part I (Making Decisions)”

  • bayrak says:
    February 02, 2011

    Nice post. Thank you for the information. I think your blog contains useful information

  • Vicki Hollett says:
    February 03, 2011

    Thanks so much for this post and metion here, Karenne! I really appreciated your previous post on TED videos too. Great stuff! TED videos are such a rich source for lesson material.

    I loved seeing some of your choices here. You have some of my big TED favourites too - and what struck me was they were not always videos I'd have expected to be on everyone's favourites lists - like that Rebecca Saxe video. Gosh, I really love that one too!

    But there were also some videos I'd never seen before and was delighted to discover. Thank you for sharing!

    February 03, 2011

    Thanks Bayrak and Vicki -

    So pleased to hear you like the Saxe video too... it was one of those I debated on whether or not really connected to BE but in the end, like Laurie Santos - they provoke great discussion anyway... and what is Business English but really just English aimed at working adults... perhaps am being too deep so I'll end with asking if you've ever seen the TV Series "Lie to me?" -rather cool!

    More videos coming!!

  • Vicki Hollett says:
    February 04, 2011

    I think theory of mind has strong connections with language learning, and yes, they are deep. As well as facts, we pack a lot of other stuff about ourselves, our feelings and attitudes into what we say. Having the ability to understand people’s intent beyond the literal meanings of the words they are using is closely related to theory of mind. We have a long way to go in understanding the all the cognitive processes involved involved of course, but as well as being revealling about language learning, I think it’s probably also very important for understanding autism.
    Great to hear more videos are coming! :-)

    February 04, 2011

    Yup, actually in class this morning we were talking about decision-making, namely the advantages and disadvantages of split decisions. The conversation went in several directions... also very philosophical in parts... but leaving there and heading back home I started thinking about how sometimes Business English texts often don't challenge students enough.

    Not really sure where I am going with this... thoughts... but one thing that videos from TED do is provoke a level of discussion beyond the norm - engages them and provokes the "same level" of discussion that they are used to carrying out in their own languages - even the short videos with lower level learners seem to open up better debates.


  • Paul O'Brien says:
    February 04, 2011

    Great post, thanks for sharing this great videos; I had seen a few previously but the entire group aggregated offers nice context with which to watch them all again.

  • Unknown says:
    February 08, 2011

    I saw your question about "Lie to me".

    There was an interesting piece in the Economist about “24” legitimizing the idea of torture. http://www.economist.com/node/16219301?story_id=16219301

    “Lie to me” seems to be having a more beneficial effect. I saw this story about Li Gang’s son http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/18/world/asia/18li.html

    And the internet campaign to bring justice (or Justice, as I like to call it!) The web protests inspired this Dr. Cal Lightman analysis.

    which helped bring this result.

    Compare this with what happened in India in a similar case and we seem to have a new form of Justice (« democratic » justice ?) aided by a tv programme on how to catch out liars.
    No One Killed Jessica (2010) http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/movies/10noone.html

    It all reminded me of Spartacus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8h_v_our_Q
    Should get a discussion going!

    Here’s my favourite tedtalk. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html
    Best wishes,
    Stuart Wiffin

    February 08, 2011

    Wow, Stuart - that talk was incredibly moving and incredibly spot on. Thank you so much, I think I'll share this with my students on Valentine's Day.

    Thanks for the other links as well. That program Lie to me is incredibly powerful, I catch myself looking for and at micro-expressions these days!

  • Mercedes Viola says:
    March 01, 2011

    I love TED Talks - thanks Karenne for this excellent post

  • Natalie Gorohova says:
    February 03, 2012

    Thanks for this post! I already Tweeted you on this, but I'll say this again here. I have a vision of an entire web resource of TEDtalks lesson plans, that teachers from all over the world would post. This is an incredibly exciting ideas for me, and I an happy to see that you share my vision. How can we make it happen?


    February 05, 2012

    Hi Natalia,
    I tried to write you via Twitter and hopefully through one of the ways we'll get in touch - I have a massive spreadsheet which I was using to divide up the TedTalks into categories and then with school starting got rushed off my feet - but a lot of the research is already done!

    If you're still keen to create this resource, I can share it with you and/or work on a joint project to sort them out for easy access by Business English teachers. Do get in touch :-))


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