5 TED Talks on Literature, Language, & the Art of Writing

With sites and resources like Youtube and TED Talks, it’s possible to help our students’ explore exact interest like never before. Do they have a deep passion for writing poetry? There’s awesome video interviews by award-winning poets. What if they can’t stop talking about their obsession with vampires or other creatures of the night? There are even lectures on the folk roots for today’s modern-day movies.

By allowing our students to dive deeper into what interests them in this way, we also allow them to nurture their own passion for literature, language, and writing. There’s nothing that says one of our students can’t learn how Shakespeare influenced the contemporary movie industry while another crafts their own Slam Poetry after watching poet-performers. The possibilities in our language classes really are endless. With that in mind, we’re sharing 5 TED Talks that will fit perfectly in your writing classroom.

The Art of the Metaphor

Jane Hirshfield takes students through a zany and wild ride as they learn more about how metaphors work. Who knew such a simple idea could be so complex?! Armed with vivid animations, Hirshfield introduces students to why Shakespeare’s word choice matters, the impact of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, and even the ins and outs of some philosophical ideas on metaphor.

How Science Fiction Can Help Predict the Future

There’s always those students who are captivated by what the future holds. And who can say what it might bring? Roey Tzezana connects students with how authors throughout the ages have predicted societal changes long before they occurred. Your students will be awed to find out what role sci-fi has played in shaping our views of technology, but also in how technology has shaped the fiction (and movies) we love so much.

How to Write Descriptively

At Writing with Design, we love helping your students develop their writing skills. So of course, we love this TED Talk on writing more descriptively. Nalo Hopkinson goes beyond just plot and style to show students who writing descriptively can really hit home. It’s the perfect lesson on how writing (and word choice) can mean the difference between leaving an audience bored and making a real connection with them.

Mining Literature for Deeper Meanings

Do you remember that first book you read where you felt like you got it, really got it? Amy Harter asks the tough questions about getting to the deeper meaning in the books we read. A wonderful primer that will open the doors of “close reading” for your students, this TED Talk shows the possibilities in analyzing fiction to notice the smaller details that draw a bigger perspective.

Where did English Come From?

Have you ever had a student ask you where our language came from? Your students that have a natural curiosity about language will get a kick out of this talk. Claire Bowern goes on an exploration to unlock how history has created our language as we know it. Students will be amazed, and maybe even shocked to learn, that the words we use every day have been shaped over hundreds and even thousands of years. This one is really good for introducing students to linguistics and for getting them thinking about how our language is still changing, even today. 

Interested in connecting your students with more writing and reading strategies? Let's talk!