The world´s Englishmania

Jay Walker explains why two billion people around the world are trying to learn English. He shares photos and spine-tingling audio of Chinese students rehearsing English -- "the world's second language" -- by the thousands.

 

4 reasons to learn a new language.

English is fast becoming the world's universal language, and instant translation technology is improving every year. So why bother learning a foreign language? Linguist and Columbia professor John McWhorter shares four alluring benefits of learning an unfamiliar tongue.

 

How language shapes the way we think.

There are about 7,000 languages spoken around the world and they all have different sounds, vocabularies and structures. But do they shape the way we think?  "The beauty of linguistic diversity is that it reveals to us just how ingenious and how flexible the human mind is," Boroditsky says.

 

The linguistic genius of babies.

Patricia Kuhl shares astonishing findings about how babies learn one language over another -- by listening to the humans around them and "taking statistics" on the sounds they need to know. Clever lab experiments (and brain scans) show how 6-month-old babies use sophisticated reasoning to understand their world.

 

How to speak so that people want to listen.

Have you ever felt like you're talking, but nobody is listening? Here's Julian Treasure to help. In this useful talk, the sound expert demonstrates the how-to's of powerful speaking — from some handy vocal exercises to tips on how to speak with empathy. A talk that might help the world sound more beautiful.
 

The benefits of a bilingual brain.

It's obvious that knowing more than one language can make certain things easier — like traveling or watching movies without subtitles. But are there other advantages to having a bilingual (or multilingual) brain? Mia Nacamulli details the three types of bilingual brains and shows how knowing more than one language keeps your brain healthy, complex and actively engaged.

 

What our language habits reveal.

In an exclusive preview of his book "The Stuff of Thought", Steven Pinker looks at language and how it expresses what goes on in our minds -- and how the words we choose communicate much more than we realize.

 

Your body language may shape who you are.

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues that "power posing" — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident — can boost feelings of confidence, and might have an impact on our chances for success.

 

Don't insist on English!

Patricia Ryan is a longtime English teacher who asks a provocative question: Is the world's focus on English preventing the spread of great ideas in other languages? In other words: What if Einstein had to pass the TOEFL? It's a passionate defense of translating and sharing ideas.


 

What makes a superhero?

As the creator of a large chunk of the Marvel Universe, Stan Lee knows a thing or two about conjuring new superheroes from thin air. In this instructional and charmingly idiosyncratic talk, 

Lee shares a few lessons on how to write your own superpowered characters and deploy them in stories that connect with the largest possible audience.

 

Do schools kill creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

 

A word game to communicate in any language.

While working with kids who have trouble speaking, Ajit Narayanan sketched out a way to think about language in pictures, to relate words and concepts in "maps." The idea now powers the FreeSpeech app, which can help nonverbal people communicate.

 

Could your language affect your ability to save money?

What can economists learn from linguists? Behavioral economist Keith Chen introduces a fascinating pattern from his research: that languages without a concept for the future -- "It rain tomorrow," instead of "It will rain tomorrow" -- correlate strongly with high savings rates.

 

Smash fear, learn anything.

Productivity guru Tim Ferriss' fun, encouraging anecdotes show how one simple question -- "What's the worst that could happen?" -- is all you need to learn to do anything.

 

The secret to living longer may be your social life.

The Italian island of Sardinia has more than six times as many centenarians as the mainland and ten times as many as North America. Why? According to psychologist Susan Pinker, it's not a sunny disposition or a low-fat, gluten-free diet that keeps the islanders healthy -- it's their emphasis on close personal relationships and face-to-face interactions. Learn more about super longevity as Pinker explains what it takes to live to 100 and beyond.

 

Why you should talk to strangers.

"When you talk to strangers, you're making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life -- and theirs," says Kio Stark. In this delightful talk, Stark explores the overlooked benefits of pushing past our default discomfort when it comes to strangers and embracing those fleeting but profoundly beautiful moments of genuine connection.

 

Why the only future worth building includes everyone.

A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you, says His Holiness Pope Francis in this searing TED Talk delivered directly from Vatican City. In a hopeful message to people of all faiths, to those who have power as well as those who don't, the spiritual leader provides illuminating commentary on the world as we currently find it and calls for equality, solidarity and tenderness to prevail. "Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the 'other' is not a statistic, or a number," he says. "We all need each other."

 

The habits of happiness.

What is happiness, and how can we all get some? 

Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard says we can train our minds in habits of well-being, to generate a true sense of serenity and fulfillment.