Don’t insist on English! Patricia Ryan on

Posted by: Tedstaff

At TEDxDubai, longtime English teacher Patricia Ryan asks a provocative question: Is the world’s focus on English preventing the spread of great ideas in other languages? (For instance: what if Einstein had to pass the TOEFL?) It’s a passionate defense of translating and sharing ideas. (Recorded at TEDxDubai, December 2010, in Dubai, UAE. Duration: 10:35)

Watch Patricia Ryan’s talk on where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 900+ TEDTalks.

Comments (7)

  • Ana Maria Panhoza commented on Oct 14 2011

    Hear, hear. Languages make us different, that is the fun of it all. it shouldn’t be a problem to have to resort to a single one, being that English or any other at a given time. it is of great importance to keep our own identity, though , which is reflected in\by our mother tongue. Hopefully we won’t have only 600 lggs in 90 years. I tend to believe that it is just like the idea of living in a world without books. It has been already said, but still…

  • Dinara Shokabayeva commented on Jun 1 2011

    I wish all teaching staff will watch that talks =)

  • Pingback: The message or the medium? « VoxAppeal

  • commented on Mar 29 2011

    I agree. I don’t want us to have 600 languages in 90 years. I want us to have only one. Way to argue for language barriers that de-humanizes other individuals and hinders us from truly communicating with people in other places, Patricia!

  • Isabelle Duston commented on Mar 29 2011

    I love this talk, it meets my own vision of cultural sustainability. Languages are part of our heritage, they hold believes and values. I am currently working on creating mobile phone applications to teach children how to read in their native language using digital media.

    This video is my vision:

  • Greg Smith commented on Mar 28 2011

    Very good!

    And very relevant. I get numerous corporate videos to translate (voice/subtitle) into the local language – while they already feature local characters and business people expressing themselves in generally bad English. Not only do the (English) source language errors make for an uncertain translation of the ideas, but the ideas themselves lose their strength and their finesse because the managers in question want to “show” that they can communicate in English.

    What is more important – the message or the medium?
    Stand up and be proud of your own language, whatever it is.

  • Jenny Yang commented on Mar 28 2011

    人类的语言和我们的思想一样奥妙无穷, 如果我们真的能够实现在TED的讲坛听见全世界各地的声音,人们能够珍惜理解欣赏包容关怀发扬改造各种文化,那我们就是在创建一个新的理想世界。

    This story is found in Genesis 11:
    And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children built. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

    until….. the children meet again in TED. And they said one to another. Go to, let us translate. And they jumped on Open translation wagon, had subtitle for bridge, ideas spread. And they said, Go to, let’s start multi-lingual conversation, and they had TED conversation for a place to stand, xenophilias met, ideas exchanged and linked. And the Lord came down to see the connected world, which the children built. And the Lord said: Behold, the people is not in one, and they speak different languages, and there they begin to translate, and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do after all. Well Done!!!