English Mania

TED Talk # 1 – English Mania

English Skype Lessons

The World’s English Mania by Jay Walker

Target Audience: Upper-Intermediate Students (CEFR B2 – C1)


English Mania is a ted talk lesson about education and the global ‘obsession’ with learning English.

Jay Walker explains why two billion people around the world are obsessed with learning English. In the process, students will learn:

– The vocabulary associated with manias and obsessions;

– A number of terms for describing the British and American education systems;

– How to discuss their countries’ education system;

– How to discuss their countries’ education system;

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Self study with structured lessons

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1. Warm-up activity

Study the definition below. Do you think the word is approving or disapproving?

mania (noun): a very strong interest in something which uses up all your time and energy; a powerful obsession.

How do `maniacs’ behave? Match the descriptions and terms on the left to the manias on the right:

1. hysterical teenagersa. Beetle Mania
2. deafening crowds, chanting, cheering, booingb. Exercise Mania
3. rapture, weeping, visionsc. Political Mania
4. compulsive over-exercisingd. Religious Mania
5. screaming slogans, waving flagse. Sports Mania

2. Watching and Listening

Jay Walker, an entrepreneur and inventor, talks about the world’s `English mania’.

Watch the introduction to his talk. Which of the manias in Exercise 1 does he mention or refer to? 

Guess the correct answer for each question below. Watch the rest of the talk and check your answer.

1. How many people are trying to learn English worldwide? How big is the English mania?

50 million

b) 1 billion

c) 2 billion

2. Which country will become the largest English-speaking country in the world?

a) USA

b) China

c) India

3. In which school year do Chinese school children start learning English by law?

a) third grade (8-9 yrs old)

b) fifth grade (10-11 yrs old)

c) sixth grade (11-12 yrs old)

4. How long does China’s Gaokao school-leaving examination last?

a) 3 hours

b) 12 hours

c) 3 days

5. How many high school students have taken the Gaokao?

a) 10 million

b) 40 million

c) 80 million


Which statements are True and which ones are False?

a. The speaker thinks that English mania is an unhealthy obsession.

b. According to the speaker, learning English represents an opportunity for a better life.

c. The speaker believes that English will replace all other languages in the future.

d. The speaker believes that knowing English will enable people to become involved in global discussions.

e. The speaker believes that learning English will enable people to become involved in global discussions.

f. The speaker believes that learning English is popular because of America.


Study the words below and fill in the gaps with the words from Jay’s talk. Check your answer by watching the video again or reading the transcript.






1. Manias can be good. Manias can be ______________. Or manias can be deadly.

2. 80 million high school students have already taken this ____________ test.

3. The intensity to learn English is almost _______________.

4. Is English a _________, washing away other languages?

5. Like the ___________ of electricity in our cities or the fall of the Berlin Wall, English represents hope for a better future.


Age range

British English

American English

2 – 5

nursery school / kindergarten


5 – 11

primary school

kindergarten (5 – 6)
elementary school (5 – 11)

11 – 18

secondary school

junior high school (11 – 14)
high school (14 – 18)



college / university

a. Describe the education system in your country using the above table.

b. What else do you know about the British and American education systems? Please complete the sentences below:

A levels








1. The term ‘__________ school’ has opposite meaning in the UK and US. In the UK, it refers to a private independent school. In the US, it means a school that is funded by the state.

2. In the UK, a ___________ school refers to a typical state school secondary school.

3. In the UK, the school-leaving exams are known as __________.

4. In the US, the person in charge of a high school is a ___________. In the UK, it is a headteacher or headmaster/headmistress.

5. At an American university, a student studies or __________ in a subject.

6. When preparing for an exam, students in the UK __________ what they have studied. In the US, they review for an exam.

7. In the UK and US, students take exams. However, in the UK, they can also __________ exams.

8. In the US, Americans can use the expression ‘go to ____________’ even if they are at university.


1. What do you think of the English learning methods shown in the presentation?

2. How important is learning English in your country?

3. How would you describe the quality of your country’s education system?

4. Has ‘English mania’ influenced your native tongue?

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