Inspirational speakers of English (according to Japanese college students)

I asked my Keio Study Skills students to produce a list of what they considered to be “inspirational public speakers”. The speakers on the list had to be able to speak English, but not necessarily as a first language. The list had to include both male and female speakers. This is the list they came up with:

  • Donald Trump (US President)
  • Malala Yousafzai (Activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate)
  • Hillary Clinton (US politician)
  • Michelle Obama (US politician)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. (US civil rights activist)
  • Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of Facebook)
  • George Bush (ex-US President)
  • Charlie Chaplin (Actor and comedian)
  • Christel Takigawa (Japanese television announcer, Tokyo Olympics spokesperson)
  • Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft)
  • Aung San Suu Kyi (Politician, diplomat, author, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate)
  • J. F. Kennedy (ex-US President)
  • Emma Gonzales (Survivor of Stoneman Douglas High School shooting)
  • Hiroshi Mikitani (CEO of Rakuten)
  • Margaret Thatcher (ex-UK Prime Minister)
  • Winston Churchill (ex-UK Prime Minister)

I pointed out that George Bush was famous for his English grammatical mistakes, and that Donald Trump, while inspirational to many, is probably not the best role model for public speaking. I also couldn’t find a video of Christel Takigawa speaking English (she mainly speaks French and Japanese) so replaced her with a clip of Masato Mizuno, who also spoke in favor of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Other than these unsuitable choices, the list is not a bad selection of different speakers and speaking styles, and it represents both male and female, as well as native and non-native speakers of English.

Of course the reason many of the speakers are on this list is not necessarily because they are inspirational speakers per se, but rather because they have had inspirational experiences, or are conveying an inspirational message, or have achieved a high level of business or political success. The availability heuristic also had an obvious impact on selection of speakers, especially considering the high number of US and UK presidents and Prime Ministers.

I made a short compilation video featuring some of the speakers from the list to help inspire students for their own presentations:

35 Tech Tips from JALT CALL 2018

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  1. Class Marker is an online testing and quiz making website for business and education.
  2. LearnMatch combines social language learning and gamification through the medium of football matches.
  3. English Attack immerses students in authentic English, and features motivational exercises and games.
  4. Minimally invasive education (MIE) is a form of learning in which children operate in unsupervised environments.
  5. Clova is an intelligent personal assistant for Android and iOS operating systems developed by LINE.
  6. Newsela allows students to read the news at various levels of difficulty. It has over 6000 articles at 5 reading levels. Free and paid versions available.
  7. According to Caught in the Net author K. S. Young, internet addiction is “real” and has “devastating effects on the lives of addicts and their families”.
  8. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method which breaks down work into short intervals separated by short breaks.
  9. Flixel allows you to make beautiful moving photographs (cinemagraphs) to captivate your audience.
  10. Linguamarina offers YouTube videos with helpful language lessons and advice for those wanting to emigrate to the USA.
  11. Kahoot! is a free game-based learning platform that makes it fun to learn any subject, in any language, on any device.
  12. Correct.app offers automated grammatical feedback on student writing, and covers a variety of typical English learner errors.
  13. Duolingo uses the Grammar Translation Method of language teaching, which most Japanese learners of English are familiar with from their high school days. It can be used as an effective supplement to more communicative in-class learning techniques.
  14. Dedoose is a cross-platform app for analyzing qualitative and mixed methods research with text, photos, audio, videos, spreadsheet data and more.
  15. The Extensive Reading Foundation is a not-for-profit, charitable organization whose purpose is to support and promote extensive reading.
  16. Yomiyasusa Levels (YL) are a newly established way to measure the reading level of English books.
  17. Shigoto no Kiso Eigo is an NHK educational television series for learning English.
  18. Elemenglish.org is a course designed for elementary school teachers who want to improve their command of classroom English.
  19. Softbank’s Nao Robot can be used to teach second languages
  20. …while Musio Edge can speak “memorable and natural” English.
  21. James Paul Gee argues that good video game-based learning should be “pleasantly frustrating”.
  22. Sounds (iOS/Android app) helps you study, practise and play with pronunciation wherever you are…
  23. …while Sounds of Speech (iOS/Android app) provides a comprehensive understanding of how each of the speech sounds of American English is formed…
  24. …and Phonetics Focus (iOS app) provides 20 fun English phonetics/pronunciation practice activities and resources.
  25. Spaceteam ESL (iOS/Android app) is a fun English learning game you play with your friends and classmates using phones or tablets.
  26. ReadTheory provides free reading comprehension and writing exercises sure to improve your critical thinking skills…
  27. …while Mreader allows teachers (and students) to verify that they have read and understood their reading.
  28. Write & Improve is a free service for learners of English to practise their written English.
  29. Memrise allows you to learn a new language with games, chatbots and over 30000 native speaker videos.
  30. AntConc is a freeware corpus analysis toolkit for concordancing and text analysis…
  31. …while TAASSC is an advanced syntactic analysis tool which measures a number of indices related to syntactic development.
  32. The new version of Word Engine promises to help students quickly increase their TOEFL, TOEIC and IELTS scores.
  33. The Tatoeba Project is a free and collaborative sentence translation database…
  34. …and Charles Kelly offers a variety of ways for Japanese learners of English to interact with the database.
  35. Apps 4 EFL is a Web-Based Language Learning (WBLL) platform for teachers and students of English as a Foreign Language (EFL/ESL). It utilizes creative commons data and open web technologies to facilitate engaging online study.