TED lesson plan: How AI can enhance our memory, work and social lives (Tom Gruber)

Level: Intermediate/Upper Intermediate
Lesson type: Conversation
Topic: Artificial Intelligence and Technology
Lesson time: 1h approx.

Teacher’s notes


Word association activity: Write the word “intelligence” on the board and ask students to brainstorm other words they associate with it.

Follow-up: Ask students how many types of intelligence they know (you can feed “emotional intelligence”, if necessary), and write them on the board as they come up. Mention that a psychologist named Howard Gardner said that there are nine types of intelligence in total – ask students if they can guess what they are (they can do this in pairs).

Short reading activity: Show or print this infographic. Ask students to check how many types they’ve guessed correctly. Clarify vocabulary from the image, if necessary.

Lead-in: Say there’s one type of intelligence missing. Can they guess which one? Write “AI” on the board, and ask students what the letters stand for. You can also ask them to discuss (in pairs or as a group):

  • Where/How is AI mostly used nowadays?
  • What are people’s main concerns regarding AI? Do they share these concerns? Why/Why not?


Pre-teaching and watching the video

Vocabulary: Print copies of Handout 1, folded. Students complete first exercise in pairs, group feedback. If necessary, elicit/feed other challenging words from the video, for example: empower, mainstream, interface, regardless, quadriplegic, caregiver, sample, hard to spot.

Viewing questions: refer students to the next section of the handout. Ask them to read the questions and make notes while watching the video. Pair correction and group feedback after the video is over.


Post-viewing activities and consolidation

Debate: Divide class into two groups. Students unfold Handout 1 and read the instructions. Assign each group a position (agree/disagree). Give students time to come up with some arguments and let them discuss the topic.

Feedback/mistake correction: Throughout the debate, make notes of good uses of language and of any grammar mistakes made. Write them down on the board in two separate columns and let students peer correct. This can also be done in the following lesson, as an error correction exercise or game/activity. For more ideas on correcting mistakes and giving feedback in class, click here.


For similar lesson plans based on TED talks, click here. If you’re interested in learning how to create a lesson plan around a TED talk of your choosing, click here.

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