Author: GLE Team | Published on 1 August 2023


'Famous Speeches' is an activity that looks at 2 speeches from well-known leaders and encourages the listeners to consider the content. 

Stage 1: Warm up

Ask learners to name some famous, well-known or inspiring leaders. Ask who they consider to be a leader? Is this just president and prime-ministers? Could it be someone like Bill Gates or Greta Thunberg? Are there others in positions of leadership that learners may know? Ask learners to name some leaders they believe to be important. As you write these up, draw attention to the ratio of male:female. 

Stage 2

Discuss what a speech is. When might a speech be given? What is the purpose of a speech? It could be to spread information; to convince people; to make an apology. Have any of the learners ever given a speech? Are there any speeches that they know of? Martin Luther King; Nelson Mandela; Malala might all be known or leaders from your context. 

Stage 3

Inform learners that they will listen to two speeches on a similar theme, such as an election campaign, civil rights, or the environment. Ensure that one speech is delivered by a male and the other by a female. If audio is not available, printed copies of the speeches can be provided alongside images of the speaker and read out the speeches to the learners.  Explain that as they listen, they should consider which speech they appreciate more, based on factors such as delivery or content. Allocate time for learners to share their thoughts on each speech in small, mixed-gender and mixed-ability groups, and discuss which speech moved them the most. Encourage learners to reflect on the key points raised in the speeches and identify which ones were most important to them

Stage 4

Take feedback from a range of learners. Listen to the reasons why a particular speech was preferred. 

Stage 5

Ask learners to identify common themes in both speeches. Were there any differences in the themes presented? Do the themes in each speech appeal to specific genders or perpetuate gender stereotypes? For instance, does one speech discussing the need for improved family support primarily appeal to women, while the other speech addressing the need for better transportation primarily appeals to men? In reality, both issues are beneficial to all genders and society as a whole. Encourage learners to share their interpretations of the speeches and how they understand the themes presented.

Stage 6: Plenary

Note in a whole group discussion any gendered appeals that they have come across in the speeches.

Gender Responsive Notes: Ensure gender neutral language throughout; mixed gender groups to carry out reading, listening and discussion; ensure answers and feedback is taken from a variety of learners. 


Plenary: the final task in a lesson that rounds up the learning. 

Gender Neutral Language: language that avoids bias towards a particular sex or gender. In English, this includes use of nouns that are not gender-specific to refer to roles or professions, formation of phrases in a coequal manner, and discontinuing the blanket use of male or female terms. For example, it’s referring to someone you don’t know as “they” rather than using the pronoun “he” or “she,” or  perhaps addressing a group as “everyone” rather than saying, “Hey, guys, and adapting gendered terms such as businessman to business person instead.

Gender Norms: ideas, standards and expectations to which women and men generally conform and how they should act within a range that defines a particular society, culture and community at that point in time. They are often internalised early in life; gender norms can establish a life cycle of gender socialisation and stereotyping. For example, a gender norm might be that boys play football and girls watch. 

Gender Bias: Prejudiced actions or thoughts based on the gender-based perception that women are not equal to men in rights and dignity.

Gender Representation: The way men and women are described or portrayed. Frequently gendered representations associate the concepts of femininity and masculinity with popular stereotypes, but also present role models that men and women should look up to or get inspiration from.

Want to know more about the GLE Team?

In a groundbreaking initiative, the British Council, under the English Connects programme, undertook a transformative mission to champion gender-inclusive practices in Sub-Saharan Africa with a cohort of 41 dedicated teacher educators and teachers from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Sudan. This dynamic group referred to as the GLE Team worked together to design this resource.

Read about our Creating Gender Pedagogy Resources for Teachers project: