The centennial of John F Kennedy’s birth in 1917, and the recent film about Jackie Kennedy have put this short-lived but much-admired President back in the headlines. Here are some resources that will allow you introduce JFK into your classroom.
The JFK Centennial site has a nice section on the President’s legacy. There is a page on each of five topics: public service, civil rights, peace and diplomacy, arts and culture, science and technology. Each page has several short audio extracts from statements or speeches by JFK, and a one-minute video mixing JFK speaking on the topic with images showing how things have changed — images of the Peace Corps today continuing the service President Kennedy started it for, or President Obama illustrating the progress in civil rights. Usable at A2 and above;
This site commemorated President Kennedy 50 years after his assassination. In the “History Now” section, there is an attractive timeline of events during JFK’s Presidency. There are short comic strip stories and lots of original films and letters to explore. It is so rich, it’s difficult to give an overall level, though a lot of it is B1 and above. The videos are quite small on the screen, better adapted to pupils watching in the computer room or as homework than video projection. The timeline format makes it ideal for group work, with different pupils/groups being assigned different dates or topics.
In Downloads and Resources, you can download an exhibition display about President Kennedy’s inaugural speech, called Poetry and Power. The following panels could be used at B1, the remainder at B2 level:
Panels 5-6: exploring how JFK got the ideas for the speech, and his insistence it should be short.
Panel 9: Just to see how messy the President’s handwriting was!
Panel 12: Focusing on the “Ask not what…” quote.
Panel 14: A touching photo of the presidential couple.
Panel 16: a handwritten letter from a 10-year-old girl, reacting to the inaugural speech.
This series of nine short videos was created by the JFK Library for the centennial. Entitled “Do You Know Jack” the cover statesmanlike topics like Medicare or the Space Race (below) but also more homely topics like “Jack and Baseball” or “Jack’s Best Friend”. They are 1-2 minutes long in the form of slideshows, mainly with text on screen. Some have short extracts of JFK speaking. They vary from A2 to B1.
Mourning a President
Follow this link for a short TV broadcast by Jacqueline Kennedy three months after the assassination, thanking the nation for the many condolence letters she and her children received.
It is just over a minute long, and would make an excellent listening comprehension training activity. The image is simply Jacqueline Kennedy’s face. It’s a prepared speech, and is clear and slow. Usable from B1.