Posted on April 29, 2010


Speechbreaker (Election Special 2010)

Speechbreaker appeared last year so it’s more than likely you’ve seen it already. Having said that, it might be worth paying it a revisit as things starts hotting up for next week’s general elections in the UK. The application offers you jumbled-up versions of words from political speeches and allows you reassemble them in the order that you like. As you can imagine the results are often highly-amusing. You can choose between David Cameron and Gordon Brown. Nice Nick is there too, but the only possible combination of words results in “choose the liberal democrats” (the application forms part of the lib-dem electoral campaign). When you’ve finished putting your speech together you can preview it before sharing it via email or uploading it to YouTube. It’s great fun and a useful way of focusing on sentence structure, collocation and word order. Click here to see examples of speeches on the Speechbreaker Youtube channel.

Step One : Lead-in

As a lead-in to the topic of politicians and their speeches, ask your students to discuss to what extent they agree with the following statements and explain how well they reflect politics and politicians in their country. Focus on the last statement and ask them to define what charisma and good public speaking means.

  • Politicians should never tell lies
  • Politicians should never accept gifts, however small
  • Politicians should realistic rather than idealistic
  • Politicians should have strong ideological positions
  • Politicians should resign if they are involved in sexual scandals
  • Politicians should never have a criminal background
  • Politicians should always be consistent in their opinions and ideas
  • Politicians should always say what they believe
  • Politicians should be charismatic public speakers

Step Two : Creating a speech with Speechbreaker

Before presenting the application ask your students to comment on the electoral campaign in the UK, their general impressions of the candidates, who they think will win etc etc. Lots to talk about here!

How you deal with setting up the task will probably depend on the teaching environment you find yourself in. I teach in classrooms with a “teacher’s computer” and projector, so I normally project the Speechbreaker web onto the screen, go through the vocabulary and then build up an example speech by asking the students to make suggestions. For homework/project work, I ask half the group to create a David Cameron speech and the other half a Gordon Brown speech. If you have access to a computer room, you might choose to do the speech creation in class time.

Note : There is an instance of the “c word” in the David Cameron speech. I normally tell my students it’s a typo of can’t. They don’t believe me, of course!

The Speechbreaker application itself is extremely easy to use.

  • Click on the words to add them to your speech (you can use the same word as many times as you like).
  • Use the Backspace and Clear All buttons if you make a mistake.
  • When you have finished click on Save to Youtube.
  • Type in a name and title for your speech, then click on Upload to Youtube.
  • Click on Speechbreaker Channel and wait for your speech to appear. This may take between 5 and 10 minutes.

If you want your students to discuss or vote on the best speech, you might like to make all your students’ speeches accessible on the same web page. You can do this by creating a Wallwisher page and getting your students to link to their speeches from there. To see how to create a Wallwisher page click here.


Step Three : Speaking practice

You may like to finish off the task/lesson with some conversation practice. Put your students in pairs or groups and ask them to go through the following conversation questions on speaking in public. Bear in mind that most of the questions assume that the students have had some experience of public speaking, and therefore may not be very interesting for younger students.

For keen students

If your students are interested in the British political system and would like to know more, recommend they have a look at www.parliament.co.uk (the official website of the UK parliament).

UK Parliament website

Hope you enjoy this activity!

Posted in: App Lessons