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Tompkins Cortland Community College

Classroom Application - Pizza Analysis Activity <-- Back to Classroom Applications Page

Famous Speech Oral Presentation

(developed for ESOL but could be used in any class where oral presentations are a requirement)



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-- to help students develop non-verbal aspects of giving oral presentations, i.e., gestures, intonation, pacing
-- to acquaint students with famous public speakers in the United States

-- to allow  students to focus on pronunciation rather than content or grammar in an oral presentation


LCD projector and computer with an Internet connection to show video clips of famous speeches

Camcorder to video tape the presentations given in class

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  1. In class, the students view a brief section of a well known speech, such as Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.  Our library has a fabulous list of web sites that provided streaming videos and texts of famous speeches.  The link is TC3 Library Gateway Audio, Video, Multimedia  The students also watch a student from a previous class giving the oral presentation. Click here to see a sample clip.
  2. First in groups and then as a whole class, the students discuss what they notice about the speaker's delivery, specifically gestures, intonation and pacing.  Then they comment on how well the student copied the speaker's delivery.
  3. For homework, the students need to select a famous speech that they would like to work on.  They also need to research biographical information about the speaker and the context of the speech.
  4. In preparing for the oral presentation, the students need to practice givng a short segment of the speech.  They need to prepare a transcript of that section to distribute to the class prior to their presentation.
  5. As students give their presentations, the rest of the class anonymously completes the grading rubric, adding helpful comments.  After all the students have given their presentations, the rubrics are distributed to the individual speakers for feedback.
  6. The students are video taped while the give their presentations.  After giving the presentations, the assignment is to view the video tape and then complete a reflection assignment.
  7. Once the students have completed their reflection assignment, I give them feedback, using the rubric for grading and responding to their reflections with appropriate comments and suggestions.


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Students complete a reflection assignment, answering the following questions.

1. Did you enjoy giving this presentation?  Why or why not?

2. What do you think you did particularly well?

3. After viewing your presentation, what do you think you need to work on for the next presentation?

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Annette designed the Famous Speech Oral Presentation Activity guided by the three components of our theoretical model:

the unique learner
Oral presentations are difficult for all students, but they are especially difficult for non-native speakers.   This activity limits the things a student must think about in giving a presentation.  Thus, each student can focus on a specific weakness.

the environment
Because giving oral presentations is very stressful, attention needs to be paid to creating a supportive environment.  When the students are introduced to the activity, they view a video clip of a famous speech and a student from a previous class completing the assignment.  In this way, the expectations of the assignment are made clear.  Allowing students to read the speech and giving the audience the transcript also ease some of the anxiety.

the construction of individual meaning
In order to realistically mimic another speaker, the students need to try to figure out what the speaker intended with the specific gestures, intonation, and pacing.  Because it's impossible to know what the speaker really did intend, the students must give a meaning to those aspects of the oral presentation that makes sense to them.

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