President Obama’s 2012 victory speech

This listening / vocabulary video lesson is based on short excerpts from President Obama’s 2012 victory speech.

I’ve been meaning to put together a lesson like this for a while now, so, on the heels of the US election, I thought I’d strike while the iron’s still hot. This is an integrated skills lesson you can use with your upper intermediate / advanced students. Feel free to copy the post, paste it onto a Word document, print it out… It’s all yours. Remember: if you use Firefox, be sure to install video download helper so you can download the three Obama videos. 

This is where the lesson begins:

A. Look at the words and phrases in bold. What do you think they mean?

1. In general, do you share most of your president’s political beliefs?
2. Does your country have a strong middle class?
3. 
Is your country going through tough economic times right now?
4. Which is the more serious issue facing your country right now – the national debt or social inequality?
5. In your voting district, do people face very long lines to cast their ballots?
6. Who were America’s founders?
7. In the US, states that usually vote for democrats are called blue states. What do we call the states that usually vote for republicans?

B. Choose 3 questions from A and ask your partner. Any unexpected answers?

C. Watch six excerpts from President Obama’s 2012 victory speech (video 1 below). What is each excerpt about? Match number to topic.

___ My family.
___ America for future generations.
___ It’s all about you.
___ What makes America unique.
___ Democracy isn’t simple.
___ A bright future for everyone.

D. Now watch five very short extracts from the same speech (video 2 below). What does he mean in each case?
1.
[  ] We’re living our best days.
[  ] Our best days are ahead of us.
2.
[  ] We’ve been married for 20 years.
[  ] We’ve known each other for 20 years.
3.
[  ] In difficult times, we tend to disagree.
[  ] In difficult times, we should think as one.
4.
[  ] We all agree on what’s essential.
[  ] We all believe in certain things very strongly.
5.
[  ] America is what it is because of its culture.
[  ] America is what it is because of its diversity.

E. Read 1-6 and match the bold words to their definitions. Ignore the gaps.

1. Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward [  ]. It moves forward __________ you.
2. …the belief that __________ each of us will pursue [   ] our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.
3. But __________ all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future.
4. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for comes with responsibilities __________ rights. And among those are love and charity [   ] and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.
5. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn [   ] thing inside us that insists, __________ all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us __________ we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.
6. I believe we can seize [   ] this future together __________ we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits [   ] believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain [   ] more than a collection of red states and blue states.

a. expert
b. try to achieve
c. persistent
d. take control of
e. continue to be
f. advance
g. helping people

F. Complete the blanks in exercise E using the discourse connectors below. Then watch video 3 (below) and check.

reason: because, because of
contrast: while, despite (x2)
addition: as well as
condition: so long as

G. What were your two favorite lines from the debate? Compare your choices in small groups.

Video 1

 

Video 2

 

Video 3

 

 

Answer key:

C. It’s all about you / My family / Democracy isn’t simple / A bright future for everyone / What makes America unique

D. 1. second / 2. first  / 3. first / 4. second / 5. second

E. 1f / 2b / 4g / 5c / 6d,a,e

F. 1. because of / 2. while / 3. despite / 4. as well as / 5. despite, so long as / 6. because

Edited script:

Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people. Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come.
…And I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. Let me say this publicly: Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation’s first lady. Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you’re growing up to become two strong, smart beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I’m so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now one dog’s probably enough.
That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.
But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers. A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow. We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this – this world has ever known.
This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.
I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting. America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try. I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America. And together with your help and God’s grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States.

Be sure to check this post, too.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this great activity, Luiz!

  2. Claudio Fleury says:

    Luiz, indeed a very nice class. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. great job!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thanks for sharing.

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