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English Is The World’s Second Language

I think I’ve said before that English is the universal language. Well I think it is better said by Jay Walker here in this TED talk, which is both a little scary and a little inspiring.
http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf
His point is that the local language will always be the first one learned and the primary one used amongst people. But English is quickly becoming the world’s second language.

To use an example to drive the point home, China will next year become the world’s largest English speaking country. Every year 80 million Chinese students will take a test for which they have spent 12 hours a day for three years studying – and 25% of it will be scored on their mastery of English.

Wow!

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TED Talks

If you’ve never heard of the TED Talks, you should head over and start watching videos. TED is a group dedicated to Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED), as they describe it. But in reality it has grown to become a centerpiece for people coming together to try to change the world for the better. It is a community of some of the most intelligent people passionately discussing some of their ideas for the future.

But as the second word in the name of the group indicates, they’re about entertainment. So they’ve put many of these talks online. And they’re some of the most entertaining things you can watch and listen to. Their purpose is not just to entertain but to inspire and they definitely do that.

Each one is about 5 to 20 minutes so they don’t take long to watch and you can fit several into the space of time it takes to watch whatever popular reality show is on. Pick any one you want and it will be more entertaining and yet will educate and inspire. Try this exercise: pick one that looks the least entertaining and watch it. I found one called “Nathaniel Kahn on My Architect” and watched it and it was moving.

But more than being entertaining, I think, these short clips show you that it’s OK to pursue your own way of thinking and doing. Some of these people have done their thing since birth but others got to a certain point in their lives and started living their lives their way. They took their background and used what they’d seen and where they’d been to do something. To chart a strategy or forge a path that has led them to where they are now.

Now not all of these talks are deep and inspirational, but they do all have a point. Take “Ze Frank’s Nerdcore Comedy” for instance. He’s as funny as a standup comedian but he can educate as well. He makes some points about social interaction near the end, but the more important message to me is that this guy can do all these things and not live on the streets – he’s got to be making a living somehow, right? He’s not working the traditional 9-5 and he’s still doing alright. Maybe there’s hope for the rest of us who want to shed the corporate skin and go down our own road.