Archive for the ‘Speech’ Category

When students give a speech that gives instructions or write a paragraph that gives instructions, they sometimes need to remind their listeners or readers about something. The attached presentation gives examples of reminders and the grammar that is used with them. It then presents sentences with errors. I use this presentation in class. I ask the students to sit in pairs and then show them the sentences with the errors. They work with their partners to correct the mistakes, and then we discuss the corrections as a whole class.


Image — http://blogs.colgate.edu/pancakes-syrup.jpg

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The discovery of this video is an example of the benefits of wandering. I am not sure why or how I found this fine piece of student work, but I am sure that it was the result of following curiosity and also some rather inefficient, but enjoyable, wandering. In any case, I wanted to share it with you.

It was made by young learners of English, and even though I teach college students, I use it at the beginning of a speech class I teach because it is so nicely organized.

My students are in a language program that develops their English language skills, so that they can take content courses in college. One of the skills that is vital when taking college courses is the ability to both recognize and use organization. Especially in college where students are processing large amounts of information, this understanding is useful for both comprehension and recall. In speech class, students are required to write an outline, give a speech plan or preview in their introduction, and use signal words so that their audience can clearly recognize the parts of the speech. This video is a useful and interesting introduction to organizing a speech. After viewing it, we discuss how it is organized and then, in pairs, students write a phrasal outline of it.

SchoolTube Video on Vietnamese Culture 






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Some languages have a rhythm that is quite similar to English, while other languages place stress on syllables that English would not.  A Japanese friend of mine named Tomoko was amused by the way her Canadian friends pronounced her name. In Japanese, none of the three syllables is stressed, but Tomoko’s Canadian friends (who were unfamiliar with Japanese) naturally applied the rules for stress found in English to her name and stressed the second syllable. When I asked Tomoko if she corrected her Canadian friends’ pronunciation, she said that she did not. She felt that their pronunciation of her name was very cute — a lovely example of  flexibility.  Flexibility is one of the many reasons that she so successfully interacts with people from a wide range of cultures.

The language teaching point that I would like to make is that speakers of some language groups have an easier time picking up the stress and rhythm of English than other groups do. When I lived and taught in Tokyo, Nanci Graves (a colleague) and I created an activity for a speech class that would give the English language students at our university a chance to practice the rhythm of English. We called the activity “Cats and Other Animals” and centered the lesson around four poems about animals. One poem came from T.S. Eliot’s Jellicle Cats and the other four are children’s poems written by Shel Silverstein. The drawings are also Shel Silverstein’s.

I have resurrected this activity and now use it in a speech class I teach from time to time. I use it as one of the lead up activities to a speech my students give that requires them to tell a folk tale from their first culture. One of the points that is assessed is their use of drama and the activity “Cats and Other Animals” is a fun way to give them some practice before they give their presentations.

Digital technology has enabled me to add this activity from several (two or three hundred?) years ago. I scanned it, and I am now adding it to my “TESOL File Drawer.” Take a look. Use it if you’d like, and have fun.

Cats and Other Animals

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I took an online class this past semester, learned a lot, and had a lot of fun. One of the things that I learned in the course was how to make PowerPoint pesentations with audio. It was surprisingly easy and I plan to use it for an online course that I will be offering in the fall. I am also thinking about asking my summer term students to use this method for one of their presentations.

The two things that you need are Audacity and Movie Maker. Audacity is software used to make audio recordings. It’s free and very easy to use. If you use Microsoft Office, you probably already have Movie Maker. It might be under entertainment or under Microsoft Office. After you make your presentation, you can upload it to YouTube so that others can access it. You can find a very clear presentation that explains how to do this at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZmOVt_BIAEvideo.

The process of making the presentation for this class was interesting. Along with learning how to use the technology, I also learned some things about what presentation features are appropriate in this format. Since I had never made a presentation of this type, I struggled with how to do it.  After some thought, I decided to approach it as if it were a research “paper” put to PowerPoint. However, later when I viewed my classmates’ projects, I realized that this type of presentation is not really a research paper on PowerPoint. The presentations that I thought were the most successful took a different approach. In my opinion, they were a bit more casual and noticeably shorter. They also tended to display more of the affective features of language. After the course was finished, I went back and edited my presentation to make it more appropriate for the medium that we used. My second draft can be found at 


If you would like to see the original version, click on this link.

If I decide to ask my students to make a presentation of this type, I will experiment with giving them the following guidelines:

  • The presentation should be between five and seven minutes. (I think that this type of format is best if it is not too long.)
  • Use two to five sources. (This is not a research paper.)
  • Use some emotion in your voice. (To be honest, I am not sure about this one. I think that this point would depend on the topic of the presentation.)

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