Over the past year I have had the pleasure to travel all around Spain giving a talk to students of English on the topic of Freedom. 2013 was a year full of significant anniversaries in the struggle for civil rights in my country of origin, the United States, and it proved a wonderful opportunity to share some of my history and culture. 150 years ago saw the beginning of the end of slavery. The great hero of the fight against segregation Rosa Parks was born 100 years ago. And 50 years ago Martin Luther King gave his powerful “I Have a Dream” speech.
Though he was born on January 15, today, the third Monday of January, is Martin Luther King Day in the United States. It is impossible to fully convey the importance of his place in the history of the United States, but I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that it goes far beyond his social and political contributions as the deepest impressions he left in the world were without a doubt spiritual, reminding us always of our duties to our fellow man and to the principles of justice and equality.
I would like to share with you a wonderful video put together by the expert in presentations and communications, Nancy Duarte. In it she analyzes the “I Have a Dream” speech for its structure, pauses, and use of repetition, metaphor and reference to spiritual, literary or political texts. The amazing thing about it is how visual it is. And for a teacher of languages it represents a wonderful use of technology to convey some central concepts of discourse analysis to your students in a way which is easy to understand and intuitive.
It will provide you with a fantastic pre or post-listening or reading task for the speech, depending on how you want to use it. And I am certain that having understood the rhetorical conventions that King uses it could also be a wonderful springboard for more productive work. Perhaps your students could even write their own speech with their dreams for a better world.
It would be great to hear how you decided to use it in your class!