TED Talks are short, engaging presentations that cover a range of topics from neuroscience to social justice. If you’ve never heard of TED Talks before, it’s where former US Vice President Al Gore delivered his passionate presentation about climate change, and delivering a TED Talk is on the bucket list of almost every influencer these days.
TED talks are perfect for language learning because they are all 18 minutes or less, so they shouldn’t overwhelm you in the way watching a full 2-hour film might.
There are also usually visuals to go along with the presentation to help with comprehension, with engaging speakers that will hold your attention. And as a fun side benefit, you’ll probably learn something you didn’t know before.
If you’re familiar with TED talks in English, you may not have known about TED En Español. These aren’t just English language TED talks translated to Spanish–this is content produced by TED talks held in Spanish-speaking countries.
And luckily for us, we can find many of these talks on super interesting topics with transcripts and/or subtitles. This is great comprehensible input and perfect material for intermediate Spanish learners.
A few tips before starting…
If you have trouble understanding everything after listening a few times, turn on the captions and slow down the audio.
TED Talk Viewing Tip #1: Turn on the Captions
This is how you turn on the captions on a mobile device:
On the desktop, look for the CC icon when you mouseover the video.
TED Talk Viewing Tip #2: Slow it Down
If you find watching with the captions still a little too fast, you can slow down YouTube videos to 0.75 or 0.5 (any slower and it usually sounds distorted).
Here’s how to change the speed of videos on mobile:
So now that you know how to listen, here’s my list of TED Talks for intermediate Spanish learners. You can get flash cards with key vocabulary from all of the TED Talks below at
7 Engaging TED Talks Perfect for Intermediate Spanish Language Learners
1) Logra lo imposible: vence tus miedos y cree en ti (Achieve the Impossible: Overcome Your Fears and Believe in Yourself)
by Carolina Águila (Chile)
Carolina talks about overcoming your fears and getting out of your comfort zone. She tells a story about her journey from Chile to working with an international group and making her mark in the world, and how you can do the same. She speaks pretty slowly, so this is a good one to start with.
2) Utilizando el poder de millones de mentes humanas (Using the power of millions of human minds)
by Luis von Ahn(Guatemala)
This is one of my favorite TED talks. The founder of Duolingo talks about how the company was founded and the original idea behind it. You may know the company’s mission and you probably have the app on your phone, but you probably didn’t know the idea came from another wildly popular (and pretty annoying) technology he created before his Duolingo days. Check out this talk to find out.
3) Canaliza tu energía y termina tus proyectos (Channel Your Energy and Finish Your Projects)
by Stefany Cohen (Panamá)
Have you started a bunch of ideas or projects, and never finished them? Stefany talks about how and why you have to learn to manage your energy to get rid of this problem, and the impact if you don’t, in a very creative way.
4) A mi mala suerte la escribo yo (I Write to My Bad Luck)
by José Playo (Argentina)
The story he tells grabs you from the start. He talks about overcoming a huge challenge in a pretty entertaining and light-hearted way. We can all apply the lessons her learned to any of our problems (big and small). Playo is from Argentina, so you may have to listen a few times to understand his accent and dry humor.
5) El arte de activar tu memoria (The Art of Activating Your Memory)
by Pablo Lomelí (Mexico)
This energetic presentation shows us some unconventional ways to improve your long-term memory. The speaker shows the tricks he used to win memory competitions, and how to make everything more memorable. This is a must-have skill for language learners, so watch to see if you get any ideas that will help you learn new vocabulary.
6) El poder de una conversación (The Power of a Conversation)
by Álvaro González-Alorda (Spain)
This is a talk about the power of conversations to connect people and change our opinions. The story he tells at the beginning is unbelievable, and challenged me to think about what I would do if I faced such an extreme event.
7) Secretos de la relación corazón-cerebro (Secrets of the Heart-Brain Relationship)
by Luciano Sposato (Argentina)
Sposato talks about the connection between the heart and the brain. He explains how we really make decisions, and why there may be some biological evidence for “gut decisions,” “butterflies in your stomach,” and “heartbreak.” You might be surprised to learn why The World Cup may actually be bad for public health.
I hope you find you find at least one talk in the list above that you like, and helps you hone your Spanish listening skills. Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below.
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¡Hola! My name is Tamara Marie. I’m a language coach specializing in brain-friendly methods to learn foreign languages faster. I speak English (US native), Spanish (advanced), and Brazilian Portuguese (beginner). I’m a Latin music & dance addict and passionate about helping people learn languages.