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30-Day Challenge

30-Day Challenge: Day #30 – Giving a foreign language speech is the ULTIMATE test of your language ability


The ultimate test of your foreign language skills is in giving a presentation or speech in that foreign language. Giving a speech in your native language may be challenging enough, but changing the language can almost be like inviting a train wreck.

If practice and preparation are important for native language speeches, then they are of utmost importance in foreign language speeches. Additionally, the elements that constitute a good English speech can generally be applied to any speech. After all, a good speech is a good speech.

Here are the recommendations from the slideshow above once more:

10 Common mistakes in public speaking:

  1. Not a clear message, not clear ideas
  2. Over-reliance on PPTs
  3. Not focusing on the audience
  4. Too complicated
  5. Too long, too unstructured
  6. Just data/facts with no interpretation
  7. A clearly speaker-centric monologue
  8. Being nervous about the language
  9. Weak performance
  10. Lack of practice

The first 7 can be adjusted through preparation: writing, visuals, organizing the speech, and so on. The final 3 can be fixed with practice.

And again from the PPT, here are the 8 questions (paraphrased) to ask yourself as you prepare your speech:

Presentation preparation – step-by-step:

  1. Is your message clear?
  2. Is it audience-focused and helpful for them?
  3. What is your elevator pitch (30-second summary of the speech)?
  4. Do you have a strong story?
  5. Do you have a clear structure?
  6. Do you know what questions they might ask? (Practice your answers to the toughest questions.)
  7. How will you avoid “Death by PPT”?
  8. Have you practiced properly?

And here’s a great PPT about making great PPTs (avoid “Death by PPT”):

Finally, if you’re still dangerously nervous about the language, it’s likely you’ve not practiced enough. A little bit of nervousness is acceptable. Public speaking itself can rattle your nerves, and speaking in a foreign language can also rattle your nerves. Putting them together can magnify the nervousness. But, practicing until (near) perfection can have a significant effect on calming your nerves. If you’re TOO nervous, consider more practice.

Here are the best tips I picked up from various resources about practicing foreign language speeches:

15 Tips for making a great foreign language speech

  1. Give yourself extra time (like a week or two extra) to prepare
  2. Know your audience
  3. Outline your speech (make sure to have a clear message and structure)
  4. Write out your entire speech
  5. Read it aloud
  6. Have a native help you with pronunciation (and other things like structure, cultural references, etc)
  7. Record yourself
  8. Make corrections (after listening to your recording – clear up any pronunciation errors or speaking stumbling blocks)
  9. Memorize the speech (but try to understand rather than just memorizing syllables and sounds)
  10. Write out simple notes to guide you as you talk
  11. Practice, practice, practice again (in front of a friend, a mirror, a camera)
  12. On the speech day, speak slowly
  13. Get the audience on your side (engage them)
  14. Don’t apologize if you’re nervous (just get on with it)
  15. Be confident and speak confidently

Giving a speech in a foreign language is the ultimate test of your foreign language abilities because public speaking by its very nature is quite challenging. And this exercise also forces you to understand the language well enough to organize and prepare a killer speech. Good luck!~


As the final Challenge in this 30-Day Challenge, this one is the most difficult and will require the most preparation.

#30: Find a venue (even if it’s small and private) in which to give a speech in Korean. Prepare, practice, and present it. Record your speech.

Hashtags today are:

#k2k3030 #speakKing


Media for good speeches:
  1. Slideshare: So you are giving a presentation in English
  2. Slideshare: Don’t be a PowerPoint felon
  3. YouTube: Death by PowerPoint (presentation)
  4. YouTube: Life after Death by PowerPoint (comedy)
Blogs with foreign language speech tips:
  1. Jimbo: How to give a speech in a foreign language
  2. Real Life: How to give a foreign language speech
  3. Washington University: Tips for public speaking in a foreign language
  4. QLanguage: How to write and deliver a speech in 11 simple steps
  5. Intel: 10 tips on presenting abroad
  6. Science Magazine: Presentation tips for non-native speakers
  7. Bright Hub Edu: Making an oral foreign language presentation
  8. Suite 101: Giving a class presentation in a foreign language while abroad
  9. Whitman: How to give a successful oral presentation
  10. Soochow Uni (Taipei, Taiwan): Preparing EFL Learners for oral presentations (for teachers)

Have you ever given a speech in a foreign language? How did it go? How prepared were you?

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2 thoughts

  1. Awesome! I’ve tested at ILR level 3 in reading and listening and still fail at 발표하는 것. ㅠㅠ Can’t wait to implement, but gotta keep my motivation up there.

    1. Me too. My reading and listening are pretty awesome. It’s the whole speaking and writing thing where everything falls apart.

      So, I’m going to give myself a huge challenge on February 15 by giving a Korean presentation at Winning Story Cafe in Jeonju. Come by if you’re in the neighborhood. It’ll start at 7pm.

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