• Inspirational English

How Oprah empowers my students

Updated: May 2

Empowering my students is my calling and I use every opportunity to achieve it. In the last issue of the e-zine INSPIRATIONAL ENGLISH, I shared my lesson plan SAYING GOODBYE TO YOUR FEARS, which is based around a visualisation that I wrote especially to serve the purpose of this lesson. I have used the lesson plan with a few of my Advanced students and they found it really powerful. The last activity involves writing a letter to fear and here's the letter that a 16-year-old pupil has written.

I am aware that it can be hard to eradicate your fears and that's one of the reasons why we tend to procrastinate important projects, preparing for an exam or writing that dream book. So I wanted to follow up this lesson plan with another one...Fortunately, I didn't have to wait for too long because one of my role models Oprah Winfrey helped me last weekend. Here's what happened.

Saturday is my only day off so I usually use the morning to catch up with some reading. I had just received my favourite magazine Good Housekeeping so I was looking forward to indulging my feminine side. This is when I found an extract from Oprah's new book "The path made clear". In the extract the writer talks about the time when she was asked by the University of Harvard to give a speech at their commencement ceremony. The philanthropist describes how and why she kept procrastinating writing her speech, the fears she came across and how she managed to overcome them. So when I read the article, a light bulb came on. I knew exactly how I was going to follow up the lesson of fear.

So this is what I did with my advanced students.

1. First we talked about what procrastination is and why we leave important tasks until the last minute. We also discussed what students usually procrastinate.

2. Then I read to them the extract from the book and discussed the feelings Oprah had to deal with and how she stopped procrastinating writing her speech.

NB. Unfortunately, for obvious reasons I can't share the article with you. For those of you who live in the UK and the USA, it was published in the May issue of Good Housekeeping. Of course, you can find the extract in the original book "The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose".

3. I found the speech that Oprah Winfrey delivered at the commencement ceremony and after watching it, I decided to choose an extract between 8 and 13 min. I played to my students and asked them to find the answers to the following questions:

1. What should you do when you fail? 2. What do mistakes teach us? 3. What is a resume? 4. How was Oprah inspired when she interviewed the little girl in 1994?

After listening, we answered the questions and discussed why Oprah decided to talk about this in her address to the graduates.

4. As a follow-up activity, we brainstormed what a student, who delivers a speech at a graduation ceremony, should include. Some of the things we mentioned were:

*the fears they had to overcome

*the success they celebrated

*the friendships they made

*expressing gratitude to their tutors

*giving some advice to their peers

Their homework was to imagine they are the top students at their dream university and as such they've been invited to give a speech at the graduation ceremony. They had to prepare a 5-minute talk.

I don't know about your students but most of mine often take part in speech contests and we have already had a few lessons on what makes a speech powerful. So if your students have never done it, I'd recommend you cover this topic with them.

So I am now happy to announce that my pupils did an amazing job at delivering their speeches. It was a pleasure for me to listen to them...I was definitely transported at that imaginary "auditorium" and even teared up.

If you decide to use this lesson plan, please, leave a comment below.

Finally, if you want to find more lesson plans to inspire your students, my new book 10 EMPOWERING LESSON PLANS could be what you are looking for.

The book includes the following lesson plans:

1. It is Achievable

2. Shine your Light

3. Stop Chasing Happiness

4. Acts of Random Kindness

5. The Black Dot

6. The Power of Words

7. The Wonders of Water

8. Who am I?

9. Try Everything

10. Being Authentic

You can find more about it here.


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Stay blessed till we meet again,

Marusya Price

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