Life & Work through English

The Study of Spoken Language

Exploring the Task

Important Notice

The materials in this section relate to the legacy GCSE English Language specification (no longer available for teaching) however, they may still be of use to teachers and students. Centres should ensure they fulfil the requirements of the current GCSE English Language specification.

Candidates have to submit one piece for this task. The task will give candidates the opportunity to discuss the differences in a variety of types of talk. Candidates must choose at least two pieces of talk. Suggested approaches are based on the 2012 task. You can adapt these to suit future themes/topics.

Listen to different examples of motivational talk. Show your understanding of the variations, explaining why language changes. Evaluate the impact of language choices on your own and others’ use. You may wish to refer to some or all of the following, as appropriate:

  • how language is used for a range of purposes;
  • how language choices are influenced;
  • regional and non-standard variations used; and
  • variations occurring due to time, place and context.

You may also wish to discuss other features that you have considered.

The Task

Listen to some of the following examples of motivational talk. Forty inspirational speeches in two minutes is a great warm-up activity.

You can also use any other similar examples of motivational speeches or dialogue.

How has the purpose of the talk influenced the speaker’s choice of language?

What features of the speaker’s language encourage the audience to feel emotion, or to act or participate?

Discuss the different types of audience being addressed. Has the talk been influenced by the speaker’s awareness of the audience?

Listen to two pieces of motivational talk: one from the 21st century and one from pre-21st century. Examples include Barack Obama (‘Yes We Can’), Martin Luther King (‘I have a Dream’), John F Kennedy (‘Ask not what your country...’), Winston Churchill (‘We shall fight on the beaches’), Tony Benn (‘What fools we are to live as if war is a computer game…’), Enoch Powell (‘Rivers of Blood’), Hillary Clinton (‘Women’s rights are human rights’), Nelson Mandela, or a range of talk from films.

Have the features of spoken language changed over time? Have some of the features from earlier talk been replicated in later speeches?

Discuss the language features that make them successful.