Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Using The Great Dictator Speech to Listen for Stress, Varying Speed, and Pauses

(TESOL Worksheets--IELTS Listening, Pronunciation, Youtube Videos Authentic Listening)
Google: Drive, Docs, Pub
[This is meant to supplement a lesson from IELTS Express Upper-Intermediate Coursebook on page 84-85.  The lesson in the coursebook was meant to focus students attention on how lecturers will often indicate important information by varying their speed, pausing before and after key information, and stressing key words.
As always, the IELTS Express textbook was very informative, but very dry.  (The constant challenge with teaching IELTS is to find a way of giving the students the information without boring them to death.)  In an effort to supplement this textbook information with something more interesting, I tried to think of any film clips I knew that featured a speech with lots of words stressed, varying speeds, and pauses.  
Although it's always dangerous to show something from 1939 to a group of teenagers, this was the first thing that popped into my head.  And actually, my students seemed to react pretty positively to it.  
It helped that my students were clued in enough to have a vague awareness of who Charlie Chaplin was.  Therefore they were intrigued enough to see him in a completely different type of role than the silent comedy they associated him with.  And I think you can't help but get sucked into the passion of the speech once you start listening.
There are several subtitled versions of this speech floating around Youtube in virtually every language, so I chose a version that had Vietnamese subtitles for my Vietnamese students (here).  
The exercise I devised for the speech was exactly the same as the IELTS Express textbook.  The students had to underline where the speaker sped up, put a slash (/) by where the speaker paused, and circle any words that were emphasized.
Before I gave this activity to my students, I had a shot at doing it myself.  Although truth be told, I've always been terrible at doing this kind of thing myself.  (One of the reasons I hate teaching stress in intonation in my classes is that I have a terrible ear for marking it myself.)  But I gave it a shot at, and then presented my answers to the students as one alternative answer, and not the definitive answer. 
The circling marks don't copy and paste well into blogger, but can be seen on the Google Drive version of this document.
This speech properly falls more into the category of oratory than informative lecture, and so the changes in speed and stress are probably more to give it a hypnotic rhythm than they are to indicate key information (the original purpose of the IELTS exercise.)  But I justified it more as an awareness raising activity.
I then supplemented this by doing the speech from "A Few Good Men" (which I had previous posted here.)  
At the end, I apologized to the students for only using a bunch of old movies, and told them that if they could find any clips of movies with speeches that illustrated varying speed, stress, and pauses, then we could do their examples next week.]

Listen to this speech from the movie “The Great Dictator”.  As you listen, underline the parts of the speech where the speaker speaks faster than usual.  Circle those words which are given particular stress.  Put a slash (/) where the speaker pauses.

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible - Jew, Gentile - black man - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.
The airplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men - cries out for universal brotherhood - for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world - millions of despairing men, women, and children - victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.
To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.
Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes - men who despise you - enslave you - who regiment your lives - tell you what to do - what to think and what to feel! Who drill you - diet you - treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!
In the 17th Chapter of Saint Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” - not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power - the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.
Then - in the name of democracy - let us use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world - a decent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will.

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world - to do away with national barriers - to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!

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