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American Rhetoric: "I Have a Dream" Speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


Website Example:

More Ways

Computer(s), Internet access, projector, speakers (for class presentation)

Activity Description

Students listen to the famous "I Have a Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., discuss its meaning, and write their dreams for the future.


  1. Make sure that the site is not blocked at your school before using it with students.
  2. Test the mp3 audio file to make sure you can play it on your teacher computer and that the sound is at an adequate level for all to hear.
  3. Make sure students are familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the United States' history of slavery (Slavery in America from the History Channel, racial segregation, and the relevant vocabulary (PDF). You may use this activity if you do not have one for teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr..
  4. Print out the transcript of the speech for each student.
  5. Select key vocabulary from the speech to pre-teach your students.


  1. Lead a brief discussion about Martin Luther King (MLK) and the United States' history of slavery and racial segregation. Write key words and phrases on the board or in a Word document projected on a screen.
  2. Ask how many students have heard of MLK's speech titled "I Have a Dream." Ask them what they know about it.
  3. Distribute the transcript from the link in item 4 (above) under "Prep" and follow this link to read the background information provided in the first five paragraphs of the text. (Do NOT click the Download button here. Just scroll down the page and discuss the first five paragraphs.)
  4. Pre-teach key vocabulary from the speech.
  5. Play the speech and have students follow along.
  6. Discuss the meaning of the speech and discuss which, if any, of Dr. King's dreams have come true.
  7. Have students write their own dreams for our world and share them with the class.

Teacher Tips

  • The advertising on the U.S. Constitution page is very misleading and it appears as directions for downloading. Do NOT follow the instructions on this page. (Teach your students about advertising found everywhere on the Internet and how to avoid becoming a victim of it.) Just use the transcript link provided under the Prep section to download and print the transcript, and then just read the five paragraphs on the U.S. Constitution site.

More Ways

  • Use this in collaboration with other resources to teach your students about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
  • There are many other famous speeches linked to the American Rhetoric site. Explore them for more listening exercises or to teach more about American culture. Use the Web Site link (directly above) to get to the main American Rhetoric site.


  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced


Basic Communication

  • (2.7) Understand aspects of society and culture

Basic Communication

  • (7.2) Demonstrate ability to use critical thinking skills
  • (7.3) Demonstrate ability to use problem-solving skills
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.