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It’s an Obama world: Students learn to talk like Barack Obama

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

From the “too outrageous to be true” file comes this gem: a teacher is instructing English language learners in Thailand to talk like Barack Obama.

That’s right – little schoolchildren are actually running around speaking English with the cadence of the president, if they’re not quoting him directly.

The lesson plan comes from Cassandra James, a “British-American writer currently living in Bangkok, Thailand.”

James’ idea is to get Thai students to pronounce words correctly and attempt to lose their accent. Makes sense. Her solution?

Listen to Obama speeches and mimic him! Here is an excerpt from the lesson plan:

“Give them a handout of one of the transcripts of Barack Obama speeches from (You can use speeches by other people, there are thousands on the website, but I like the Barack Obama speeches as he has high energy and is extremely eloquent). Just using the first page of the speech, assign a paragraph or two to each student and ask them to spend 10 minutes underlining the words they think should be stressed and then to practice, in their heads, how they think it should sound.”

Never mind that the president’s eloquence is actually embedded in the teleprompter. The next step:

“Play the MP3 or video file for the Barack Obama speech you chose (also on American Rhetoric), and ask students to listen carefully to see (a) if they stressed the words the same way Obama did and (b) was there anything they thought he could have stressed differently. (My students usually have interesting comments about Obama's delivery and it's then that I explain political speeches, especially in America, are all about inspiring and creating emotion.”

Just imagine, all those little Obama impersonators running about in Thailand, calling for tax increases for small business owners, announcing to the enemy when we will pull our military out of Afghanistan, proclaiming that America’s private sector is doing just fine and whining that the Republican leadership treats him like a dog.

You can almost hear their innocent little voices announcing to the shop owner around the corner, “You didn’t build that!”

After a few weeks of listening to that, we’re pretty sure the parents of these students will demand that the teacher find a new strategy to teach English. They can only be expected to put up with so much.

Polls suggest that an increasing number of Americans lack interest in anything the president has to say and have tuned him out. The people of Thailand should have the same fundamental right.

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