Today’s TED video lesson is about activism and personality. Many people think that if you want to change the world, you need to be outgoing – in other words, an extrovert. But is that really true? Isn’t it possible that the world could be changed by introverts? In this TED video, Sarah Corbett argues just that point.

The Video



Activism /ˈaktɪvɪz(ə)m/ – noun – the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change

Campaigner /kamˈpeɪnə/ – noun – a person who works in an organized and active way towards a goal

Introvert /ˈɪntrəvəːt/ – noun – a shy, reticent person

Note: We have previous lessons about using adjectives for good IELTS personality vocabulary.


Listen to the video closely from 02:57 and fill in the gaps. (Answers are below.)

And when I ended up just being a ____1____,because it’s the only job I can do, really –I was campaigning at university,and for the last 10 years, I’ve been a professional campaigner for large charities, and now I’m a creative campaigner ____2____for different charities as well as other work I do –but I knew that there were other forms of activism that were needed. I started ____3____about seven years ago to see what quieter forms of activism I could engage with so I didn’t burn out as an ____4____,but also to look at some of the issues I was concerned about in campaigning. I was very lucky that, when I worked for Oxfam and other big charities, I could read lots of big reports on what influenced _____5_____ and businesses and the general public,what campaigns worked really well, which ones didn’t. And I’m a bit of a ___6___, so I look at all of that stuff, and I wanted to tinker around to see how I could engage people in _____7_____  in a different way, because I think if we want the world to be more beautiful, kind and just, then our activism should be beautiful, kind and just, and often it’s not. And today, I just want to talk about three ways that I think activism needs ____8____.I think there’s lot of other ways, but I’m just going to talk about three.


In the IELTS speaking test you may be asked to talk about personality. For example, in part two  you may be asked to describe a person. In this case, you may be able to talk about some as an introvert or extrovert. There is lots of useful vocabulary in the above video for describing people.

Another theme from the video that matches an IELTS topic is that of social change – or, in short, society. This is related to charity, of course, which is also a main feature of today’s TED video.

Here’s a question from part 3 of the speaking test:

Q: What social problems are their in your country?

A: There are many social problems in my country. For example, there is a lot of poverty. Today, you see many people sleeping rough on the streets because they cannot afford to own or rent a house.


Let’s look at an IELTS writing task 2-type question based upon Sarah Corbett’s TED talk.

Some people think that only extroverts can cause social change, while others believe that introverts also have an important role to play.

Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

Note that I have put the word “only” in bold. I did this because it is key to understand the question. When you encounter a question like this, you should pay attention even to the small words. This is because they may play a vital role in the sentence.

Post your answers below! I will mark the first two essays. 🙂


  1. campaigner
  2. consultant
  3. tinkering
  4. activist
  5. politicians
  6. geek
  7. social change
  8. introverts