Learning English from Obama

Since Obama took office, there have been many articles in the Japanese press about how the Japanese are learning English from him. Many of their lessons have come from the 2008 release of the international best-selling book "The Speeches of Barack Obama," which sold nearly a half million copies in only 3 months and an audio CD of his speeches, which has sold over 200,000 copies.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "a school called Kaplan Japan, draws almost 200 students a week to his Obama workshops. Pupils recite Mr. Obama's speeches line by line, using a special check sheet to record progress. Accel English, another Tokyo language school, encourages students to emulate Mr. Obama, memorizing and repeating aloud chunks of his speeches at least 50 times before flipping to the text to see what he really said."

Wave Publishers has purchased the rights to translate and distribute The Power Presenter in Japan.

The book's Chapter 10, "What Every Speaker Can Learn from Barack Obama," was of particular interest to the publisher because of the popularity in Japan of President Obama's public speaking skills.

To further leverage the Obama phenomenon, Wave Publishers has asked me to write a new preface to The Power Presenter for Japan, and to include an analysis President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech today. Here is a preview of the new preface:

The Nobel acceptance speech was noteworthy for its clear structure, or the use of an overarching roadmap. Flow Structure is one of the seven steps of story development in Chapter Four of The Power Presenter, "How to Prepare Your Content." In the Nobel speech, Obama chose two Flow Structures: Problem/Solution and Chronology. The problem was the seeming dichotomy of the award of a peace prize to the head of a state engaged in two wars; the solution was his definition of a "just war." He then supported his definition with a chronological history of past wars and future steps toward peace.