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Analysis of a speech (Michelle Obama)

25.5.2021

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Analysis of a speech
Summarize what Michelle Obama is saying in a few sentences. Then outline the reasons Michelle
Obama gives for studying

Analysis of a speech Summarize what Michelle Obama is saying in a few sentences. Then outline the reasons Michelle Obama gives for studying abroad. Finally, analyze her language and structure that help her to keep her audience interested in what she is saying. Who does not love travelling? Who wouldn't love to study or learn in another country or maybe just have some time off? The former first Lady Michelle Obama talks about this subject in the short extract of her speech "The importance of student exchanges" on a visit to China in 2014. During her speech at the Pecking University, she accentuates the importance of cross-cultural understanding and of studying abroad and explains that exchange between countries, cultures and societies is essential for all of us. In the following text I am going to outline the reasons for studying abroad and analyze the language and the structure that helps to keep the audience interested. As already mentioned, studying abroad is a meaningful topic for Michelle Obama. "Studying abroad isn't just a fun way to spend a semester" (II. 7-8), it is essential for the global economy (1.8). Good grades and scores in school are important but it is also about a real experience gained beyond your hometown or borders (II.10-11). You learn about other...

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languages, cultures and societies (II.11-12). Furthermore, "studying abroad is about so much more than improving your own future" (II. 14-15). With such an experience, there is a possibility to influence the future of countries and even the whole world (II.15-16). Besides, there are so many challenges that people have to handle and no country can solve the problems alone (II. 13-14). So studying abroad is about developing cooperation skills (1.21), "immersing yourself in one another's culture" (1.22) and "learning each other's stories by getting past the stereotypes and misconceptions" (II. 22-23). In order to keep her audience interested, she gives not only many arguments, but also many examples and thus presents everything figuratively. She mentions, for example, that we have to handle challenges (1.16). This is followed by examples of these challenges: "[...] climate change or economic opportunity or the spread of nuclear weapons [...]" (1.17). The problems are defined and everyone knows climate change as a challenge. Consequently, you feel a little more involved right away. Moreover, Michelle Obama mentions a Chinese saying: "It is better to travel ten thousand miles than read ten thousand books" (II.12-13). This saying summarizes well what she said before and leaves a strong impression. Since it is a Chinese proverb and she gave her speech in China, most people probably know it and understand her right away. It also lightens the mood a bit. What's more, she addresses her audience directly. She declares "your borders" (1.11) and "you do it by [...] yourself" (II.21-22). You think that you are meant and that you can change something, for example the future of "your countries" (1.15). She also structured her speech very well. It has an interesting introduction containing a comparison, "[...] our world is more connected than ever before" (II.1-2). This is followed by the main part with many arguments and examples, after which she summarizes the most important points again in the conclusion. In conclusion, Michelle Obama's speech was very successful. You felt familiar with her and the issues raised and you were directly prompted to study abroad to develop further. I think after this speech, many young students have at least considered going abroad.