TED talks – Jay Walker on the world’s English mania

From an ESL perspective, this video is fascinating. You can feel the “English mania” by simply traveling to other countries for vacation as an English speaker and being confronted by locals who want to practice English with you. Or even just talking with immigrants and international students that are studying English in America. The intensity of motivation to learn English seems unlike that of any other language.

For a talk under five minutes, it really is engaging. Walker shows clips of Chinese students learning English in shouting masses, which exists but seems more like an extreme than a norm (yet, one that very well demonstrates the “mania” Walker talks about).

If I were to extend the video, I would add that the intense drive to learn English in many countries manifests in so many other, more common ways, such as the way some international students and immigrants talk about their need to learn English, which may not be as explicit and shocking as Walker’s pictures but it’s just as powerful particularly because of the everyday nature of how their motivation manifests. I feel like those indicators, the ones that appear in a English learner’s everyday language, really show how “English mania” has dispersed and grounded itself into one of the top priorities and indicators of success, as unfortunate as it may be, for many English learners.


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