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Last updated at 10:33 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Learning English with Obama


23 February 2009

The speeches of the new United States President Barack Obama are proving to be a popular aid to learning English in Japan. A special compilation has gone on sale, quickly becoming a national bestseller.

Roland Buerk in Tokyo

The speeches of US President Barack Obama are proving to be a popular aid to learning English in Japan


Click to hear the report


It's been described by its publishers as a huge hit in Japan - a compilation of the speeches of Barak Obama has sold well over 400,000 copies, and students at an English class in Tokyo are even memorising the new President's words to improve their own pronunciation and understanding.

CLIP English class
'On behalf of the great state of Illinois let me express my deepest gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention.'

Barak Obama's message of change has been well received in Japan where politics is often characterised by grey figures and backroom deals. The clear language of the speeches makes them an obvious choice for teaching material. But the new President's words are said to hold particular appeal.

CLIP English class followed by an English teacher
- Perseverance.
- Perseverance.
- Just practise like that.
It's from his personality, first of all. And also, his technique, his rhythm in English sound beautiful to the Japanese people who may not understand English well but still find his English as something they want to learn from.

And so, in shops across Japan the face of the new American President is a fixture on the bookshelves, as well as on the newsstands. And for students, the question of whether they'll succeed in improving their English can be answered - 'Yes we can'.

Roland Buerk, BBC News, Tokyo


Click to hear the words


a huge hit
very popular with many people
a compilation
here, a book that has been made from several separate speeches
speaking to
a large formal gathering of people
grey figures
politicians or civil servants who don't often appear in public making it difficult to understand exactly what they do
backroom deals
when something is agreed behind closed doors, i.e. not openly
to hold particular appeal
to be liked for a specific reason
continuing effort and determination
skill or expertise in doing something
a fixture
somebody considered to be permanently established in a place or position
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