TEDx: An authentic English learning experience: A Giant Leap






As you may know from previous posts I have written about TED.com for listening and TED conversations.  Today I want to tell you about another initiative that can give your learners some real world hands on authentic experience organizing an event in English.


About a year ago one of my preparatory English students, Can Aztekin now an irregular freshman at Sabancı University in Turkey, came into my classroom and put an idea into my head that just wouldn’t go away.  You see Can knew that I loved TED and he was also a TEDSTER (the term for a lover of TED).  His friend at Emory University was organizing an event called TEDxEMORY.  The concept of TEDx is


Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.

In other words, if you enjoy the TED format you can bring a local TED style event to your local community TEDx.  Can inquired whether this would be possible for our own university.  At the time I was really busy organizing another event so I told him that it sounded interesting but left it at that.  However the idea just wouldn’t go away and I started to take sneaky looks at the TEDx organizers’ page over the next 8 months and started to realize that a TEDx experience on our campus could provide an excellent opportunity for our university students to gain real world and life experience through the medium of English.   After contacting Can in June 2011 to co organize this event together, I want to explain the concept more clearly and the steps needed to host such an event with your learners.


STEP 1:Applying for a license for TEDx


In order to apply for a license you need to be a member of the TED community.  The great thing about TEDx is that anyone can apply for this license and it is free.  There are the following types :


  • Standard Event: The Standard Event type, the basic event type, is subject to all of the standard rules and applies to most events. Learn more »


  • Youth Event: The Youth Event type is an event organized by, or catered toward, youth and/or kids. Events of the Youth type are permitted names that include the word “Youth” or “Kids,” e.g., “TEDxYouth@SMU.” Learn more »


  • Corporate Event: The Corporate Event type is for corporations that want to organize an event with a co-branded name, i.e., a name that includes the name of the corporation, such as “TEDxPWCDublin.” The Corporate Event type, and the naming exception it grants, is only approved for internal, private, employees-only events within corporations. Learn more »
  • TED2011 Simulcast (TEDxLive): The TED2011 Simulcast (TEDxLive) type is for events that will feature the live webcast of the TED2011 Conference. Learn more »

and also a university event.


HINTS:  (1) Whoever applies for the license really needs to have a blog or a website to which they can show their organizing ability.  Both Can and I are members of the TED community and we are both co organizers.


(2) The license is only valid for one event and for one year only.  For each new event you need a new license.


(3) If you are doing a university event or youth event for those of you in junior/high school level of education through a Youth Event will need permission from your institution.


For more LICENSE INFO click here




Support: Once you have your license approved the great thing about TEDx is that you are not alone.  The organization of TEDx puts you in contact with local TEDx mentors who you can turn to for advice.  There is also an impressive resource bank with guidelines and templates for every aspect of organizing your event which can give you and your learners an excellent framework through which to plan an event.  The bonus here is that everything is in English so they are really using English extensively to understand and use it as a medium to learn how to organize an event.  You can link to the RESOURCES HERE


The Team: You need to build a team to cover the following areas: speakers, sponsorship, social media and webdesign, finance, marketing, creativity and attendees.  As this is a full event, it does require planning and meeting together on a regular basis to produce a good quality event.  As an aside you are allowed to raise a certain amount of sponsorship for the event and you can sell tickets to cover your running costs.  All of this once again gives your learners real life experience.



The event itself: Although there are rules about how to organize the event that need to be followed the wonderful thing about TEDx is the focus on sharing ideas and CREATIVITY.  It is a wonderful gift to be able to say to team members what is it you dream of doing for this event and then finding the means to do it and to be able to share this process with them ans with your organization.


Our current status:  So we have 63 days to  go until our event TEDxSabanciUniversity: Take a Leap on February 29th 2012.  The team is in full swing contacting sponsors, training speakers and generally being creative.  We are currently working on the events design and how it will now work on the ground.  We meet every week at our Sabanci University campus in Istanbul and are a multicultural interdisciplinary team of students and staff working together to create a local TEDx event to push ourselves to think outside of the box and to take our own personal leaps as a group together.  I am for ever grateful to Can for bringing this into my life and seeing the team learn and explore in ways that maybe they had never thought possible is inspiring. We are taking English from the comfortable confines of the classroom and the campus and pushing out to use it to communicate with each other in the team and the wider local and global community.  Who knows where this will lead each of us but it is a leap of discovery and exploration.




One comment

  1. […] those of you who have been reading this blog for a while you might remember a post I wrote entitled TEDx: An authentic English learning experience: A Giant Leap, where I outlined the TEDx project, TEDxSabanciUniversity.  This is an independent event with a […]

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