This post is part of a series called “Learn Japanese with...

Each post highlights a specific resource or method you can use to immerse yourself in Japanese anywhere in the world. In today’s world of smartphones, apps, streaming video, podcasts, etc., anyone with internet access can learn Japanese no matter where they happen to live. This series will show you exactly how.

See the entire series here and check out my book Master Japanese for even more tips and resources.

TED was once an invite-only conference in Monterey, California attended by the who’s who of technology, education, and design (which is what “TED” stands for by the way). Fast forward three decades and TED is now a massive worldwide community of lifelong learners that holds local TEDx events all over the world. While I highly recommend attending a TED event in person if possible (I attended TEDxTaipei and TEDxOlympia and loved both), most talks are recorded and posted online where anyone in the world with an Internet connection can view them. So this is all fine and dandy, but how can TED videos be used for learning Japanese? I have three main suggestions:

Watch TED Talks with Japanese Subtitles

As of writing, there are 2,625 TED videos on with Japanese subtitles, including TED Talks, TEDx Talks, and TED-Ed videos. That ought to keep you busy for a while! Use this page to see talks filtered by Japanese language, and then further refine your search using one or more of the following criteria:

  • Topics: Choose from technology, entertainment, design, business, science, and global issues.
  • Duration: Choose videos that are less than 6 minutes, 6 to 12 minutes, 12 to 18 minutes, or more than 18 minutes in length.
  • Event Type: Choose videos from the main TED Conference, TED Global, TEDx events, or TED Education. Note: To reveal “Event Type” dropdown, you first have to click “More” on the right.

To turn subtitles on and off:

  • Select the Subtitles icon (the speech bubble to the right of the volume icon).
  • Select the language you want from the list or select “Off.”

Use TED’s Cool Interactive Transcripts

All TED Talks with Japanese subtitles also have complete transcripts. Best of all, the transcripts are interactive, allowing you to click on a phrase and jump right to that part of the video! Pretty slick, TEDsters! To use the transcripts:
  • Click the “Transcripts” tab below the video.
  • Select the language you want to view (e.g. 日本語).
  • To jump to a section of the video, hover over a phrase and click once it’s highlighted in gray.

Watch Japanese TEDx Talks

While most TED Talks around the world are presented in English to maximize their global reach and impact, there are a decent number of talks in Japanese. To get started, check out this post from Japanese Level Up for a list of five inspirational Japanese TEDx Talks.

Pro Tip: To get the most out of TED’s Japanese subtitles, transcripts, and talks, I suggest reading the talk description and transcript in English first (especially if you are a beginner or intermediate learner), and then switching to Japanese. The better you understanding overall gist of the talk, the more Japanese you will acquire.

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