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Persuasion language essay writing part 2

Persuasive language: writing an essay on the author's persuasive techniques

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Persuasion language essay writing part 2

  1. 1. Series 3: The Language of Persuasion: an essay-writing guide (978-0-9924942-1-6) This essay-writing guide consolidates the skills acquired in Series 1 and 2. It helps students identify, and concisely explain, the author’s point of view, the progression of the argument and relevant contextual features. It consists of essay plans, paragraph maps and explanations so that students can write more insightful and accurate responses. This workbook can be purchased online at:
  2. 2.  Practise identifying points of view in media articles  Achieve a balance between “summary and analysis”  Focus on the “language”: ensure that students consider the effect of specific connotative words at key points of an argument  Respond “authentically”  Use a “wide range of tools that seek to persuade”  Focus on the tone – why it is being used and how it may change throughout the piece. (Refer Assessment Reports)
  3. 3. Taking into account the assessors comments, the updated workbook:  provides students with a “variety of tools” and strategies to analyse persuasive texts;  focuses on the “big picture” concepts so that students can turn annotations into a fluent discussion; and  encourages higher order thinking skills that enable students to more effectively identify the purpose and implication of an author’s techniques and word choices. (Refer The Language of Persuasion: an essay writing guide.)
  4. 4.  Help! I think I am just listing the techniques.  If you simply list the author’s techniques as you read the text, you will find yourself writing a shopping list which lacks a clear focus. In this case, the longer the paragraph, the longer the list.  For example: ‘Firstly, Mr Barry uses inclusive language to appeal to all members of the audience with regards to the congested roads, and then he gains sympathy by showing the “traffic tangles”. He moves to a forthright tone, when he states that “enough is enough”. He also encourages us to show outrage at the fact that the Government appears to be very slow to act.’
  5. 5.  Am I just labelling the techniques? “Avoid technique identification; instead explore how  language is being used to persuade.” (Examination Report,  VCAA 2012)  “Technique identification” often occurs because  you do not accurately explain the author’s  purpose and how their persuasive words and  “techniques” reinforce their views and values.  To be as specific as possible, be sure to  improve your analytical vocabulary. (See pp.  25-37, 78-82.)
  6. 6.   While it is important to analyse tone, do not ‘overuse’ tone words. “Students should be thoughtful about how they describe the tone, and should not simply pluck words from a memorised list”. (Examination Report, VCAA: 2013).  If used well, an analysis of tone will help you examine the author’s subtext, but it should not become the sole focus.  Do you rely on “tonal shifts” to structure your essay? To strengthen the focus of your paragraphs, it is preferable to link such shifts with another significant strategy. (See pp. 28-29.)
  7. 7.   Avoid comments such as the author “states”; “claims”; “asserts” and “explains”. These verbs tend to summarise the author’s views.  Use verbs that reflect the author’s approval or disapproval, their support or criticism.  Your sentence structure is critical to a sophisticated discussion. Study the “sentence patterns” modelled throughout this workbook. Analyse don’t summarise If you are simply  repeating, quoting  or paraphrasing the  author’s views then  you are not  analysing  accurately the  purpose of their  language choices. 
  8. 8. (ReferTheLanguageofPersuasion:anessaywritingguide.)
  9. 9. (ReferTheLanguageofPersuasion:anessaywritingguidep.6.)
  10. 10.  What prompts the discussion?  What evidence does the author rely on?  Facts and figures  Surveys and experts  Real-life examples and anecdotes  (Which words best show the author’s stance?)  Reasoning strategies: clue to subtext ◦ Assumptions and connections ◦ Use of comparisons: compare and contrast techniques ◦ Use of common sense and logic. (Refer The Language of Persuasion: an essay writing guide, p. 10.)
  11. 11. ◦ Who is the author? What is their personal and/or professional experience? ◦ Does the author use real–life examples and anecdotes? (What type of language is used to describe the people/main stakeholders?) ◦ Rebuttal and opponents: what type of language is used to criticise and depict opponents? (Refer The Language of Persuasion: an essay writing guide. pp. 11-12)
  12. 12.  What are the author’s values? (What type of language is used to reflect their priorities?)  What appeals does the author make?  Impact and purpose: which key phrases elicit an emotional response?, eg. anger, sympathy, hope, fear (reduction of fear), frustration, respect, trust.  A logical response: what connections and links does the author draw? (Refer The Language of Persuasion: an essay writing guide, pp. 13)
  13. 13.  To gain depth, it is important to analyse the author’s strategic word choices.  You need to show what the author implies or insinuates by choosing one word and not another.  How does the author’s choice of words reinforce their message and predispose us to share their viewpoint?  Language analysis involves putting this word or that phrase under the microscope and commenting on the writer’s intentions.  If you do it well, you will already anticipate reader response, without referring constantly to “this positions the reader ... ”. Don’t forget you are one of the readers! (Refer The Language of Persuasion: an essay writing guide, pp. 14-17.)
  14. 14.  Quote and analyse words that have a subtext or that have connotations (an extra meaning).  Look for:  emotive and loaded language  figurative language  inclusive and exclusive language  colloquial language (Refer The Language of Persuasion: an essay writing guide, pp. 14-17.)
  15. 15. (Refer The Language of Persuasion: an essay writing guide, p. 30) The Editor of The Age states that young footballers should wear helmets. Some don’t because of the “fear of not being seen as tough enough”.
  16. 16. (Refer The Language of Persuasion: an essay writing guide.)
  17. 17. For each paragraph (and hence the essay) to “hang” together fluently and cohesively, it is important to identify the author’s “big picture” and the strategies that best support the development of the author’s views. The author’s key strategies are those that are critical to the development of the author’s views, their values and their priorities.
  18. 18. Ideally, the paragraph moves from the “big picture” to an analysis of specific words and phrases that reinforce the author’s key strategies and supporting reasons.
  19. 19.  The number of paragraphs per text will vary according to the length of your essay and number of media texts.  Generally, separate the text into “blocks” according to:  the sequencing of the author’s views and  the tonal/semantic shifts in the discussion. (See p. 6.)  See signposts in the text. (Refer The Language of Persuasion: an essay writing guide, p. 42)
  20. 20. (Refer The Language of Persuasion: an essay writing guide, p. 39)
  21. 21.  What is the issue? Why is it controversial?  Who is the author(s); what is their purpose for writing?  On whose behalf do they speak?  Who is the audience?  Introduce the article, the title/headline; the author’s main contention and tone/style.
  22. 22.  The paragraph moves from the big picture to specific examples:  The student groups together common techniques/purpose  The student uses sophisticated tone words and metalanguage  The student uses sentence model that also cleverly embed persuasive techniques so that she is not simply identifying techniques.  The student incorporates quotes into sentence  The student also makes insightful references to purpose/ positioning of audience
  23. 23.  Reproachfully,(Censoriously)DrKrisanskidrawsuponhisprofessionalbackgroundasapsychologistandnumerousconsultationstosupporthisviewthatthe demiseof“oldfashioned”parentingstyleisharmingchildren’ssocialdevelopment.DrKrisanskidecriesthemodern-styleofparenting,thathebelieves,is leadingtoalackofinterpersonalskillsinchildrenandbreedingself-indulgentchildren.Certainly,parentswouldbeashamedatthealliterativereferencestotheir “flipflopping”andtheirtameeffortsto“squashthesquabbles”whichimplythattheyareirresponsibleandcareless.Theywouldalsobealarmedatthefactthat suchineffectualleadershipisalsolikelytodisadvantagetheirteenagechildren.Thereferencetochildrenas“narcissistic”whoare“usedtogettingtheirownway witheverything”andwholackimportantlifeskillssuggeststhattheyarepoorlyequippedtocopewiththeworkplaceandarelikelytobeemotionally disadvantaged.Thecomparisonsbetweenthepresentandpastparentingstylesremindsthoseparents,tologically,foregroundwhatthepsychologistidentifies as,old-fashionedco-operativeinterpersonalskillsthatarelikelytobetterprepareteenagersforfutureroles.
  24. 24.  Taking into account the target audience(s), sum up the author’s views, persuasive language choices and tactics.  How do they seek to influence the audience?  Include a comment on the direction of the issue (if appropriate).
  25. 25.  Text 1: analyse the author’s strategies and key word choices.  Text 2: compare the second author’s views with those in Text 1  Explain whether this author shares similar or contrasting views with the previous author.  Explain the most obvious similarity or difference with regards to a key persuasive strategy. Focus on specific word choice and techniques of second author;  Explain their impact and sum up with a cross-reference to the previous text/author. (Refer The Language of Persuasion: an essay writing guide, pp. 46-61)
  26. 26. See The Language of Persuasion; an essay-writing guide pp. 62-64.
  27. 27.  Should I write a paragraph on a persuasive technique and compare each author?  this structure can be confusing because an author’s techniques” often overlap or are intertwined; you may sacrifice your depth of analysis;  it may lead to repetition;  it may be more sophisticated to launch your discussion with Text 1 and use Text 2 to make comparative comments.
  28. 28.   Similar to Ms S’s views expressed in the previous article, Mr X also discredits the Government’s decision to [...]  If the editor focuses our attention on [...], Mr X contends that [...]  In contrast to Mr R’s support for [...], Mr X condemns [...]  Although both the cartoonist and Mr X share the view that [...], their tone differs markedly. (Refer The Language of Persuasion: an essay writing guide, pp. 46;61)
  29. 29. Series 1. Techniques of Persuasion Series 2. Language analysis: become an expert Series 3. Language analysis: an essay-writing guide
  30. 30. Each workbook has a corresponding “Suggested Responses” file. The Responses and “Taking it Further” extension activities are an ideal correction resource for teachers. They are also ideal as an independent self-directed learning program for students. E-books are also available for extra practice. This workbook can be purchased online at: See Series of Lessons: (Orange Workbook)