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Using Language to Persuade. Session 3 s A presentation for the 2013 VATE Englishes Day Prepared and presented by Leonie Harding All resources, handouts and presentations available at Please go to this address, and read

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using language to persuade

Using Language to Persuade

Session 3 s

A presentation for the 2013 VATE Englishes Day

Prepared and presented by Leonie Harding

All resources, handouts and presentations available at

Please go to this address, and read

‘The sun is your frenemy’ in preparation for the session 


The premise…




how to approach the study

Focus on how language is used to persuade

  • Don’t focus on labelling techniques in a list, or any sort of formulaic response.
  • Develop INTUITIVE understanding with a holistic framework.
How to approach the study:
key knowledge of the aos

Structures, features and conventions of texts

  • Concepts of defined audiences and contexts
  • Critical analysis of ideas, arguments and evidence
  • Metalanguage for critical analysis
  • Strategies for constructing sustained, coherent and logical argument
  • Group discussion strategies
  • Spelling, punctuation and syntax
  • Expectation that verbal and non-verbal language (including visuals and images) is analysed appropriately
Key knowledge of the AOS:

“ Writing which analysis the use of language in three or more persuasive texts that debate a current issue in the Australian media”

“A sustained and reasoned point of view on the selected issue in written or oral form”

Source: VCAA English and EAL Study Design

tasks in the study suggested

Unit 1: Oral – in group discussion

  • Unit 2: Written analyses - folio
  • Unit 3: Comparative analysis AND Oral
  • Unit 4: Examined response
Tasks in the study (suggested)
deconstructing the study

Analysisand comparison of texts

  • Topical issue- since 1 September of 2012
  • Media types should be widely varied:

Feature articles

Opinion columns



Letters to the editor

Interviews on current affairs programs




Excerpts from online focus and discussion groups


Deconstructing the study.
overlooked persuasive forms

Exam: 2012: speech

2011: blog

2010: speech

2009: online journal opinion piece 2008: newsletter.

So why are we persisting with the Herald Sun opinion pages?

Because we assume that it’s easier.

But is it the best approach? Wordsgirlaus

Overlooked persuasive forms
the critical problem

Students baffled and confronted by persuasive text.

  • ‘Labelling’ then attributing meaning is far too common.
  • Students do not understand the background of a piece – the INTENTION.
  • Intuitive response is based on understanding the context, purpose, audience, form and language of the piece
The critical problem…
developing a holistic understanding

Begin with the notions from the Statement of Intention

  • Encourage students to think more deeply than just the words on the paper.
  • Author’s contention, audience and purpose are as important as the text.

So consider the SOI…

Developing a holistic understanding


  • The world surrounding the author
  • Cultural and political landscape
  • Environmental surroundings
  • Timeframe
  • Influential historical events

If you changed any of these specifics, would the issue have the same resonance?



  • Why did the author feel the need to write this piece?
  • All written material has a deep purpose, a reason for development.

What did the author wish to GIVE to the world, by writing this piece?



  • Very specific, ‘measurable’ audience
  • Several separate audiences, or audiences that share a common characteristic?
  • Can students ‘draw’ a profile? (great SAC prep!)

Aspect: FORM

  • Physical representation of a piece of language/text.
  • Persuasive/expository/imaginative; but can be a hybrid.
  • Also tends to discuss the distribution/publication specifics of the material.


The form of a piece is selected in direct response to the context, purpose and audience.

For example:

Vietnam War protest songs








  • Specific communication choices: represent the contention.
  • Usually (but not always) selected to fit with the particular form.
  • Less familiar language concepts such as colour, sound, images, tone, layout, emotion, cultural cues, timing, parody and branding. Glossary of Language Techniques

The language used in literature is a product of the time and place, as there will be jargon, cultural cues and vocabulary that can effectively ‘place’ a piece.

The purpose that the author identifies as being behind the creation of the piece will affect the strength of the language, as their place on the continuum of totally agree to totally disagree will colour what they believe about the topic.

Language is always selected (whether consciously or subconsciously) to have the greatest impact on the specific audience (as they are the ones who need to know this information).

Forms dictate not only the sort of language used (newspapers, for example, have a very specific syntax) but also the strength of the language – tabloid language is simpler; language within an industry is highly jargonistic; compare political satire on the ABC with that of commercial networks…

It is IMPOSSIBLE to understand how to analyse language without knowing this first…


Begin the AOS with discussions of PCALF

  • Encourage students to identify aspects from a variety of material
  • Be careful that students don’t INFER – just remain aware of context.
  • PURPOSE of this approach is to CONNECT with the intent of the author.
  • What should the audience think/feel/say/do?

Please visit

for resources.

Thank you, and enjoy your year…