The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States has marked the start of a new period for Americans. The positive energy from January 20 remains strong, and the upcoming Presidents’ Day on February 16 will serve as one more occasion to recall those leaders, past and present, who commanded with wisdom and inspiration.
Presidential speeches are carefully constructed and often delivered with great oratory skill. I’ve used past inaugural addresses in the pronunciation classroom to practice public speaking. Speeches by Kennedy and Reagan were received well and allowed for heartfelt interpretations by advanced students. The use of these authentic sources brings history and culture into the classroom. The high level of vocabulary also tests learners’ passive if not active knowledge. Well chosen excerpts let the students understand the essence of the speech without losing time by trying to understand all the themes contained within the address. Furthermore, with shorter passages and more opportunities to reread, you can focus on specific skills, such as intonation and sentence stress.
The Internet offers full-length copies of many famous presidential speeches, and in some cases videos are also available. Start your search for the perfect presidential model with these sites: