TED Talk: Why videos go viral

Students watch a TED Talk by Kevin Allocca and find out why videos go viral. The lesson features a listening comprehension activity, speaking and vocabulary practice. I usually watch it with my upper-intermediate/advanced groups. You can find the video here.

The Task

The first part of the class deals with vocabulary necessary to understand the video. Make sure you clarify what “going viral” means, however, leave talking about particular videos for later. You might ask your students why they think some videos become very popular, to see whether their ideas are similar to Kevin Allocca’s theory.

Step two involves watching the Talk and filling in information for each discussed video ( the number of views and reasons for going viral.) Finally, talk about how and why your students use YouTube, whether they remember any particularly popular videos and try to find out why they went viral.

There is an optional follow-up activity, which I usually set for homework. Talk to your group whether they think it’s easy to become a YouTube star. Ask them to write a mini-essay at home (100-120 words) on the topic: It is easy to become a YouTube star. Do you agree?

To see some other TED Talk class ideas check out this lesson about the topic of success.

Personal Experience

This is one of my personal favourite TED Talks to use in class since it is really funny and entertaining as well as relevant. It contains a lot of useful vocabulary and the topic is interesting for both adults and teenagers. I learned about a myriad of videos that my students have seen, and we tried to apply Allocca’s theory when deciding why they got so popular. I often choose to use this Talk towards the end of the school year (minus the homework part) because of its entertainment value.


Why videos go viral by Kevin Allocca

Why videos go viral by Kevin Allocca_key


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