Study questions


Here are some study questions which can help you get started on your work with Michelle Obama's speech "Dear Class of 2020". 

Rhetorical situation

  • What is Michelle Obama's political position and how does it affect her role as the speaker?
  • In what ways is the rhetorical situation unusual compared to a typical commencement address?


  • Which four life lessons does Obama use to structure her speech?
  • What is the effect of adding a hopeful conclusion to a speech which is otherwise dominated by somewhat depressing themes?

Style of language

  • What is the effect of Obama's mix of formal and informal language?
  • Can you find examples of metaphors and descriptive language which help Obama make her message more clear for the audience?

Rhetorical devices

  • What is the effect of Oba

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