New adventures

As I have changed careers and am no longer actively teaching highschool, this blog has ground to a halt. The blog and materials and recourses will still be accessible and you can expect the odd post to appear att irregular intervalls but probably with a slight change of focus. However, my focus is still very much in education and more specifically on the changes which follow from the transitions to digital learning landscapes.

Painting by Henrika Florén, 2004

Presidential Speeches: Discussion – rhetorics and power

Discussion – rhetorics and power

2-3 students in each discussion group
Scope: 5-7 minutes

Preparation: Watch/read the inaugural speeches delivered by Barack Obama and by Donal Trump.

  1. Barack Obama ”A Presidents’ Address” pages 9-14 in Viewpoints 3 – (accessable through
  2. Obama delivers first inaugural address. President Barack Obama takes the oath of office and delivers his inaugural address from the steps of the Capitol
  3. Full Text: President Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address
  4. President Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address (Full Speech) | NBC News

For each speech find/identify…

  • Metaphorical language – give examples and explain what these metaphors usually mean.
  • Theses & antitheses – give examples and explain
  • Quotes – Do the speakers use quotations? Give examples and find out who they are quoting.


THEN Discuss:

  • Metaphorical language – Use the metaphors you have identified to discuss. Why do you think these metaphors are used?
  • Theses & antitheses – Use the theses/antitheses you have identified to discuss. What impact does use of these theses/antitheses have on the speakers message?
  • Quotes – Use the quotes you have identified to discuss. Give examples of quotes you have identified and dicuss the presidents’ choice of quote. Why do you think a specific quote is used. How does it affect the speakers massage?
  • Compare how the Obama and Trump use different rhetorical devises and how this affects their respective messages?
  • What evidence of ideologies can you find in their speeches? Give examples and motivate.
  • Where and how can you see power in effect in the language use of Obama and Trump respectively? Support your discussion with examples.

Presidential Speeches: Discussion – rhetorics and powerWorksheet for discussion (extract from the complete instructions), embedded to the left or as pdf to download English 7_Presidental Speeches_Discussion_20171415297898_stock_save-pdf





Posts on this theme

Theme ‘Visions’

An introduction to langugage ideology and power

A President’s Address

Presidential Speeches: Discussion – rhetorics and power

The Enigma Machine and the Bletchley Park Code Breakers

BBC History describes the Enigma machine as “a piece of spook hardware invented by a German and used by Britain’s codebreakers as a way of deciphering German signals traffic during World War Two”

If you like codes and puzzles you can explore the different type of machines and codes that were using during World War Two.

Alan Turing and his team at Beltchley Park managed to crack the Enigma machine and by doing so contributed to the Allied forces Victory in WWII. Bletchley Park was vital to Allied victory in World War Two.

What was Bletchely Park and who were the Code Breakers?  Bletchley Park was the once the top-secret home of the World War Two Codebreakers. Nearly 10,000 people worked in the wider Bletchley Park organisation. You can take a tour of Virtual Wartime Bletchely Park (1938).

Bletchley park code breakers

In a way this was “the birth of the information age, industrialisation of  codebreaking processes  with machines such as the Turing/Welchman Bombe and the world’s first electronic computer.

also see

Alan Turing and “The Imitation Game”

Ray Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451

Image in public domain from wikimedia commons

Ray Bradbury “published hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes” (from

“Set in the twenty-fourth century, Fahrenheit 451 introduces a new world in which control of the masses by the media, overpopulation, and censorship has taken over the general population. The individual is not accepted and the intellectual is considered an outlaw. Television has replaced the common perception of family. The fireman is now seen as a flamethrower, a destroyer of books rather than an insurance against fire. Books are considered evil because they make people question and think. The people live in a world with no reminders of history or appreciation of the past; the population receives the present from television” (from Cliffnotes)

“Is it true that firemen used to put out fires and not burn boooks?”

Themes, motifs and symbols in Fahrenheit 451


Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.

Censorship; Knowledge versus Ignorance


Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes

Paradoxes, Animal and Nature Imagery, Religion


Symbols are objects, character, figures and colours used to represent ideas or concepts

Blood, “The Hearth and the Salamander”, “The Sieve and the Sand”, The Phoenix, Mirrors


Language history – Lesson 1

English today is a world language but it all started in the British Isles. To understand the history of English developed it helps if you have access to maps which describe the region and how people (and languages have moved). A series of good maps for illustrations can be found at History of English podcast. Here you can also find a number of podcasts on English language history. There are 85 ! episodes, but among the most relevant are

Way back in time

Celts, Angles and Saxons





You can listen to the sounds of English through history using the BBC Ages of English Timeline


Irregular English verbs

Verbs are often a problem area for students of English as a second or third language.

As such English is quite easy when it comes to regular verbs as you only have the -ed ending (talked, walked…) for past actions, the ing-form for continuous action (and some other cases) and the s-form for the third person singular in the present tense. That only amounts to three different verb endings; -s, -ed, -ing. The problems come with how to use these verb endings, and then, of course, you have all the irregular verbs.

Irregular verbs are common and frequently used. You should learn the most frequent first. (There are more than 200). There are lists in books and on the internet. I will include a few links here below. When you go wrong with an irregular verb. I strongly suggest that you take some extra time to learn the correct form. This is an effecctive use of your study time and will quickly give you and improved proficiency.

50 Most Common Irregular Verbs in the English language, but does not include the auxiliary verbs “do” and “have”. (87% of irregular verb use in English!
70 common irregular verbs: pre-intermediate learners Pre-intermediate level students should be familiar with all or most of these words.
List of English irregular verbs: A – F (This is a complete list of English irregular verbs, with their past simple and past participle forms.)

Resources for English 5 – a symbaloo webmix


The symbaloo webmix is a living document and continuosly updated, which means tiles may be moved and link added or removed. It is however made public and adapted to the ESL course English 5. There are general resources for language learning, as well as assignments, games and tools.


Jim Crow Laws and Wendell Scott

Last year, Wendell Scott became the first African American inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Who was Wendell Scott? If you want to learn more…

Jim Crow Museum

Jim Crow was the name of the racial caste system, from 1877 and the mid-1960s, which is mostly associated with the Southern States in America.  Under Jim Crow, African Americans were made  second class citizens.  Find our more about the Jim Crowe era at the Jim Crow Museum.

Find out more about the Jim Crow Laws.

Jim Crow Stories (resources for learning and teaching from PBS):

“Jim Crow was not a person, yet affected the lives of millions of people. Named after a popular 19th-century minstrel song that stereotyped African Americans, “Jim Crow” came to personify the system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the United States”.

For more posts on Civil rights see

Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights
Civil Rights – a themed project in English 6
Civil rights…(Lesson 1)
Civil Rights…(Lesson 2)