Inspiring talks to watch if you're studying languages

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Languages shape the way we think and how we interact with one another. International students know this better than anyone. Once they leave their home country to study abroad, the first thing they'll come across is all the language differences. Even if coming from an English-speaking, the nuances and cultural add-ons make for a completely new experience.

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If you are a student passionate about the power of languages and interested in the way they break barriers, we recommend you to watch these carefully-selected talks held at Ted over the years.

1. How language shapes the way we think.

There are about 7,000 languages spoken around the world -- and they all have different sounds, vocabularies and structures. But do they shape the way we think? Cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky shares examples of language -- from an Aboriginal community in Australia that uses cardinal directions instead of left and right to the multiple words for blue in Russian -- that suggest the answer is a resounding yes. "The beauty of linguistic diversity is that it reveals to us just how ingenious and how flexible the human mind is," Boroditsky says. "Human minds have invented not one cognitive universe, but 7,000."

2. Breaking the language barrier.

Tim Doner is a senior at the Dalton School in New York City who has studied over 20 languages. His interest started at the age of 13, after several years of French and Latin, when he began learning Hebrew and soon moved on to more obscure tongues such as Pashto, Ojibwe and Swahili. As he describes it, his goal is not to achieve fluency in each, but rather to learn about foreign history and culture through the medium of language.

Tim has been interviewed (in English, Mandarin, Arabic and Farsi, among others) for media outlets such as The New York Times, BBC, The Today Show, Reuters and The Economist. He is starting his freshman year at Harvard next year and plans to study linguistics.

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