10 Feb 2014

Spoken Language Obama and Churchill

If you're doing the spoken language controlled assessment, you might like to practice on this question about language and power. The two texts are: an Obama speech and Churchill's speech, 'We Will Fight them'.* *You'll need to scroll to the bottom of the page to get the relevant paragraphs.

How is the Spoken Language GCSE English assessment marked?

Here is the mark scheme for the AQA spoken language controlled assessments. (Scroll right down. It's the second to last page on the pdf).


Compare the two texts. Consider the context, the language features and the individuals. What language features dominate each. How do the language features relate to the context. How do we see the exercise of power through language. How does power shape the way both men speak.
- appeals to authority
- calls to action
- language of violence, ability (can) etc

Both texts are strong examples of power in speech from two important leaders. ‘We Shall Fight’ is from the mid twentieth century in the context of a desperate moment for Britain in a world war. Churchill uses words to motivate and inspire in a frightening situation. Obama is a presidential candidate in the early twenty first. He is also using language to motivate, though the context is an election and his enemy is a rival political party, not a fight to the death against an enemy state. We would expect to see a leader in office using stronger language due to his increased power, the older text to show more formal language features including classical rhetorical techniques - also because of Churchill’s social background. We might expect greater distance between speaker and audience, more imperatives and declaratives. In a war situation we might expect more negative language. Both speakers define themselves in opposition to an enemy so we would expect to find antithesis and careful use of positive and negative emotional language to frame the issue.

Please continue this essay, comparing the two texts. Give enough space to analyse each one before you jump to the next. Do not to do point for point comparison. Make comparisons where they feel interesting or relevant.

The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.