How To Give A Speech – A Holistic Approach

Here’s an idea for a lesson plan for your B2, C1 or C2 levels on how to guide your students towards writing and giving a speech. The idea dawned on me while I was listening to the Queen’s broadcast regarding Covid 19 back in April 2020. However, the following lesson plan can easily be used with any other speech you may wish to share with your students.

Also, note that the lesson was done entirely online and didn’t require any sophisticated apps or tools other than Skype.

Here goes:

  1. Speaking – Start a discussion with students asking them: If you were the Queen/King, what would you say to your nation? How would you offer comfort in this difficult time? How would you give them strength but at the same time appeal to their self-discipline? And the like.
  2. Writing – Tell students to write a short speech based on the discussion. Then have students read what they’ve written to each other and allow for peer feedback. (Who was the most convincing/caring/effective… in their speech?)
  3. Reading/Listening – share the link to the Queen’s address and have students read it to themselves or have them follow while you read it. Alternatively, have them listen to the Queen herself while they follow in the text.
  4. Vocabulary – Have students read the speech once again and find/underline/highlight/note down any new vocabulary. You could set a limit to 5 or 10 new words. Then, allow for some time for them to look up the words in an online dictionary. I have trained my students to always have the Cambridge online dictionary open in a separate tab. Offer assistance if needed, but encourage them to work independently as much as possible.
  5. Grammar (optional) – choose a grammar point you want to focus on (perhaps something you’ve been working on recently, or something students usually struggle with) and have them look for examples of it in the speech. You should only focus on something they will be able to find in the text.

I get Who-on-earth-uses-participle-clauses type questions from my students a lot and, partly, they are not to blame. More often than not they only get exposed to them in their grammar books where the only context they can see grammar in is the gapped example sentences, which doesn’t really qualify as context. Exploring an authentic text, and the Queen’s at that, provides them with deeper insight into grammar.

So, have them find examples of the chosen grammar point and analyse meaning and structure with them. They could also follow with writing an example of their own by emulating the original example.

Setting homework – Ask students to write their speeches again, but this time incorporating all new vocabulary. You could even turn it into a challenge – if they manage to utilize all new vocabulary AND the grammar point you analysed in class appropriately they get 10 points while they lose a point for every wrongly used word. It would be a good idea to jot down each student’s choice of new vocabulary so you can keep track of whether they used the words in their speech.

You could even ask them to practice giving their speech at home so they can present it to their classmates in the next lesson. Voting for the best speech can also take place. Another alternative would be to have them record themselves which they would then have to share in class.

I hope you find it helpful!

Happy teaching!