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Language Acquisition 3: Public Speaking in Theory and Practice


Admission requirements

A pass for Language Acquisition 2 or a similar pronunciation course at first-year level.


Speaking in public is not a skill that comes naturally to most people. Language Acquisition 3: Public Speaking in Theory and Practice focuses on public speaking – it will teach you how to give effective, i.e. persuasive presentations on topics in your field – in English. To this end, you are introduced to classical rhetoric (the discovery, structuring, presentation and assessment of arguments) as well as modern theories on argumentation and public speaking. You practise presentation skills in short presentations and debates. Furthermore, you analyze presentations by others (including your fellow students) and learn how to give constructive feedback. Finally, you learn how to assess recordings of your own presentations through your audience’s eyes.

Course objectives

At the end of this course students

  • Hands-on experience of giving a short oral presentation in English on their area of specialization;

  • Introductory knowledge of classical and modern theories on rhetoric, argumentation and public speaking; and

  • The ability to apply this knowledge to their own written and oral presentations and to the analysis of other people’s presentations.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website

Mode of instruction

  • One 45-minute lecture per week until Reading Week

  • One 45-minute tutorial per week

  • Reading List

Course Load

The course load of this course is 140 hours.

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 19

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 96

  • Time to prepare for presentations and the exam (including reading / research): 25

Assessment method

  • Oral presentations and contributions to discussion in class (50%)

  • Multiple-choice test (50%)


This course is supported by blackboard.

Reading list

  • Leith, S. (2012). You talkin’ to me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama. London: Profile.

  • Public speaking in theory and practice: Texts and assignments (Reader).


Students should register through uSis. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail: english@hum.leidenuniv.nl.


English Language and Culture departmental office, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; english@hum.leidenuniv.nl.
Coordinator of studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.