Monday, 11 August 2014

Speakers' Corner
(Level: Intermediate to Upper-Intermediate / B2 / ** to ***)

Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London
Picture credit:

Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London
Picture credit:

You are going to watch a short report focusing on Speakers’ Corner, a site in London’s Hyde Park which is still considered to be a real symbol of democracy.

Before watching

The following words and notes could be useful:

to be enshrined in law:  to be officially recorded as a law so that it cannot be ignored     être garanti par la loi
a zealot: a fanatically-committed person or zealous adherent to a cause (political or religious one)...  un fanatique

Spycatcher: book written by Peter Wright, former MI5 (*) counterintelligence officer, which sold over 2 million copies partly because the British government attempted to ban it. 

If you want more details about the Spycatcher, click HERE
(*) If you want more details about MI5, click HERE

Anthony Neil Wedgwood “Tony” Benn (1925 – 2014) was a Labour politician, an MP (Member of Parliament) for more than 50 years and cabinet minister in the 1960s and 1970s. He became Britain’s youngest serving MP at the age of 25. In the 1970s, he became the chairman of the Labour Party and had a position later in the Labour Government of 1974-1979. When his party was in the opposition in the 1980s, he became a radical key figurehead of the left wing (he had started being on the left wing because of his frustrations with the centre-right policies led by his own party). He retired from the Commons in 2001 but continued to spend time on politics and wrote his diaries.

If you want to know more about Tony Benn, click HERE 

Eric Arthur Blair (1903 – 1950), known by his nom de plume George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. His work highlights social injustice and opposition to totalitarianism. He is best known for his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (written in 1949) and the allegorical Animal Farm (1945). In 2008 he was ranked second by The Times on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
Orwell continues to influence literary and political culture and the word “Orwellian” – used to refer to totalitarian or authoritarian situations has entered the language together with several of his own neologisms (Big Brother, cold war,  Thought Police…) … 

For more details about George Orwell, click HERE

More about The Times' list of the fifty greatest writers since 1945? Click HERE

 George Bernard Shaw (1856 –1950):  Irish playwright who wrote more than 60 plays; he was also a novelist, essayist and short story writer. Nearly all his writings dealt with social issues (education, marriage, class privilege, exploitation of the working class…). He was also awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938) for his contribution to the film Pygmalion (an adaptation of his play)… 

More details about G.B. Shaw?  Click HERE

Karl Heindrich Marx (1818-1883) was a German philosopher, historian, revolutionary socialist whose work contributed largely to the current understanding of labour and capital. The most notable books he published were The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital.

If you want to know more about K. Marx, click HERE

While watching

Answer the following questions in French:

1 What do you get to know about Speakers' Corner? Make notes.
2 How is Speakers' Corner important, according to Reinhard Wentz?

You can also watch the BBC programme by clicking HERE

When you are finished, you can check your answers.

(Suggestions de réponses)


  • Endroit à Londres que l’on associe à la liberté de parole depuis près de 1000 ans.
  •  A l'origine: lieu d’exécutions publiques où les gens se réunissaient pour entendre les dernières déclarations des condamnés à mort.

  •  Lieu de grandes manifestations et de grands discours depuis lors…

  •  Le droit d’y exercer ses talents d’orateur et d’y dire ce qu’on veut a été garanti par le législateur en 1872.

  •  Toute la zone a été rénovée par la Royal Parks Authority : nouvelle grille d’entrée avec des barreaux en forme de « mégaphones »  pour symboliser la liberté de parole. (Plus de détails concernant la Royal Parks Authority?  Clique ICI )

  • Le lieu y a vu défiler des personnages tels que Marx, Orwell, B. Shaw, Tony Benn…
  •  Tout le monde peut y prendre la parole, qu’on soit anarchiste, comédien ou fanatique religieux…

Il est extrêmement important qu'un lieu tel que Speakers' Corner puisse continuer d'exister puisque les échanges d'opinions y sont directs (et non pas virtuels comme c'est le cas sur la Toile ou Facebook). Ici, il faut assumer les opinions qu'on exprime et les conséquences éventuelles (réactions du public...)... 

More details about Speakers' Corner?  Click HERE
You can also find interesting information HERE

And finally, about R. Wentz: click HERE

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