The Language of Oratory

Unit Plan

Phil Coogan & Julie Foley
3-4 Weeks

California Language Arts Content Standards
Standards Addressed in this Unit
1.0Listening and Speaking Strategies
Students formulate adroit judgments about oral communication. They deliver focused and coherent presentations that convey clear and distinct perspectives and demonstrate solid reasoning. They use gestures, tone, and vocabulary tailored to the audience and purpose.
Supporting Standards

Teacher Background Reading


Smiley Select and adapt these learning activities to best meet the needs of your students, and to fit the time available:
  1. Introduction

    1. An illustrated definition of oratory

    2. Starter - Play video or audio clips of several great speeches (see Amercian Rhetoric or the History Channel).

    3. Discuss with the class the general features of:
      • delivery
      • content
      which they can identify which give impact to the speech.
    4. For homework, provide background reading - an Historical Overview of Oratory - Ancient Greeks to present day trends

  2. The Language of Oratory

    1. Students will need to become increasingly familiar with this list of oratorical terms through using them in analysis and application.

  3. Political Oratory

    1. Choose a recently delivered speech on a current issue. Have students:
      • re-write it as a straight speech stating opinion and facts without any oratorical/rhetorical/persuasive devices. Choose several to be read aloud to the class.
      • discuss which aspects of the speech were omitted in this process and which sections of the speech(es) needed modification. In this process, students should refer to their list of oratory terms and be encouraged to use the correct terminology in discussing omissions/modifications.
      • listen to or read John F Kennedy's Inauguration Speech and answer these questions about it.

  4. Oratory In Literature

    1. Read this speech from Antony from Act 3 Scene 2 of Julius Caesar.

      (See the full text of Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2 to get the context of the speech and also for explanations of any unusual/archaic words or usages).

      • What features of oratory are apparent here?
      • Which features occur here which you would not expect to find in eg political oratory? Why?
      • Use A Framework for the Study of a Speech to analyze the speech.

    2. If possible, select examples of oratory from literary texts or films studied this year. Use A Framework for the Study of a Speech to analyze these speeches.

  5. Exploring the Language of Oratory

    Have students read the passage from a speech by Winston Churchill carefully. Ask them to write answers to ALL of the questions that follow it. In their answers they should not discuss any one feature of the language of oratory more than once.

  6. Research

    1. Using Inspiration software , or comparable mind-mapping software, mind-map contexts within which oratory is found then brainstorm some possible research topics.

    2. Here are some ideas for possible research topics for students.

    3. Steps in a Research Project.

    4. Use these resources in your research.

    5. Note-taking sheet.

    6. After conducting and writing up your research, present an oral seminar to the class which outlines the focus of your research, briefly describes the research steps you went through, and presents a summary of your findings demonstrating or playing examples using audio-visual aids. For step-by-step guidance to delivering a seminar, visit here. For help with creating visuals to accompany the seminar, visit here.


Oral Presentation