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Estimated Completion Time

1 segment / 18 weeks

Enroll/Extend in Adult Education Public Speaking click here


Do you strive to gain more confidence when speaking in front of people? Learn techniques from famous speakers throughout history while learning what it takes to make a great speech. Develop skills that will serve you well throughout your career and personal life.

Major Topics and Concepts

Unit 1: Introduction to Rhetoric

In this unit, you’ll learn about the history of public speaking and rhetoric, including both Aristotle and Cicero’s ideas on what makes a good rhetorical argument. You’ll also begin to look at how to recognize rhetorical devices at work in the speeches of others and how to assess the effectiveness of an argument.

Unit 2: The Influence of Rhetoric

In this unit, you’ll learn about how rhetoric influenced the development of democratic and republican political systems in ancient Greece and Rome, which in turn influenced the development of the modern world. You’ll learn about how Hitler used rhetoric for destructive purposes during World War II, as well as how rhetoric has more recently been used to create hope in the American people by Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama. You’ll also begin learning how to recognize bias, prejudice, and propaganda, and how repetition can be used to create an emotional effect.

Unit 3: Listening and Analyzing

In this unit, you’ll learn all about how to listen actively to speeches in order to analyze their form and content. You’ll learn about the different types of public speech and their different characteristics and begin learning about how a speech is structured in order to create an emotional effect.

Unit 4: Speaking Strategies

In this unit, you’ll learn all about planning speeches including how to identify the purpose of your speech, how to choose an appropriate subject and tone, and how to choose a persuasive angle.

Unit 5: Building an Argument

In this unit, you’ll learn how to thoroughly research a topic in order to begin building a strong argument for a speech. This involves learning where to find information as well as how to assess the quality of that information, how to identify bias and vested interests, and how to analyze that information.

Unit 6: Using Supporting Materials

When speaking in front of an audience, it’s important to present your material in a way that makes it easy for your audience to view you as an expert on the topic you are presenting. One way to do this is by including relevant and interesting supporting materials in your speech. In this unit, we’ll take a look at what supporting materials are available, the different ways you can present them to your audience, and the most effective ways to use supporting materials to get your point across.

Unit 7: Ethics and Public Speaking

With all public speaking, it’s very important that you hold yourself to the highest ethical standards. Ethical considerations should guide you throughout your entire process—from when you choose your topic to how you evaluate your research materials and, finally, to the words you choose when speaking to your audience. In this unit, we’ll take a look at how to be an ethical speaker, how to ethically analyze your sources, how to avoid plagiarism by ethically citing your sources, and some general guidelines for speaking ethically.

Unit 8: Outlining Your Speech

When speaking in front of an audience, it’s important to carefully prepare what you plan to say. Creating and using an outline is the most effective way to accomplish this plan. Outlines are a way to succinctly organize the research you’ve done and figure out how you want to use that research in your speech. Your outline will also help you develop strong introductions and conclusions, which you’ll use to gain the audience’s attention before your speech and have your topic stick with them after your speech has concluded.



The Experiences Pathway allows students to demonstrate mastery of competencies and earn credit through experiences, such as internships, travel, service learning, entrepreneurship, or independent study. Students may elect to meet all competencies in a particular competency group (i.e., English 1 or Economics) or they can master  competencies in multiple discipline areas. Once a student enrolls, a VLACS instructor will work with the student to refine the Experience, identify the competencies that will be met, and determine products that will demonstrate mastery of each competency.

In Experiences students will:

  1. Use google drive.
  2. Meet weekly or every two weeks with their instructor.
  3. Secure an outside expert.
  4. Plan the experience prior to completing it. (Credit is not awarded for experiences completed prior to enrollment and completion of the planning process.)

Here is how to enroll in an Experience.

  1. Identify the course(s) that matches most closely with your Experience.
  2. Click “Enroll Now” from or from our learning catalog.
  3. From the enrollment page, navigate to the course that matches your Experience.
  4. Select all competencies that you hope to meet through your Experience. Do not worry if you are unsure of the exact competencies, they can be adjusted.
  5. Select the Experience bubble.
  6. If there are additional competencies from other discipline areas you hope to meet, enroll in these in the same manner.
  7. Your parent/guardian will receive an email asking for approval of your enrollment. This must be completed before we can assign you an instructor.
  8. You will receive a welcome email from your instructor within five days, given that space is available.

Independent Study

By signing up for an independent study, you will be able to direct your own learning, identifying what you want to learn and how you will demonstrate that you mastered your learning objectives.


Internships allow you to gain professional experience, make connections, and become familiar with a career, while working on site with mentors and professionals in a career of your interest.


While travel can be a great experience for learning life lessons, it is also an excellent way to acquire the knowledge and skills that allow you to demonstrate mastery in a variety of competencies.  The world is a classroom and travel experiences will connect your real world experiences to the learning that you seek.

Service Learning

In Service Learning, you collaborate with members of your community to address issues to improve your community. You will connect your service with discipline specific content so that learning can takes place through problem solving and collaboration.


Starting your own business is a great way to learn. This type of experience allows you to engage in an entrepreneurial experience and receive credit for competencies you master through this experience.

Credits .5

Competency Group Overview

Meets elective credit


  • Art of Persuasion
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of the art of persuasion by explaining the history of rhetoric in public speaking, explaining use of rhetoric in public speaking, and describing rhetorical techniques in public speaking.
  • Building an Argument
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of building an argument by comparing primary and secondary sources and evaluating source credibility.
  • Ethics in Public Speaking
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of ethics in public speaking by explaining the principles of an ethical speaker, explaining the importance of analyzing sources, and creating proper citations for sources. 
  • Outlining a Speech
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of outlining a speech by explaining the purpose of the outline process, describing the types of outlines used in public speaking, and creating an outline for a speech.
  • Speaking Situation
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of the speaking situation by explaining the purpose of the speech and describing the influence of audience on a speech.
  • Speeches
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of speeches by analyzing strategies for active listening, explaining types of public speech, and analyzing the structure of speeches.   
  • The Influence of Rhetoric
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of the influence of rhetoric by relating rhetoric to politics and explaining the power of rhetoric in public speaking. 
  • Using Supporting Materials
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of using supporting materials by explaining types of supporting materials and evaluating the use of supporting materials.



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We offer regular online open house webinars where VLACS staff members provide parents and students with an overview of our programs and answer questions about online learning.