Persuasive Language Analysis Essays

Pitched at VCE students and one of the essay types in the year 12 exam.
Introduction
Sentence one: Definition of the issue in broad terms.
Recent controversy has arisen over a government report which suggests that women be allowed to fight in the front line.

Sentence two: Outline the opposing points of view.
Those who support the proposal argue that women are just as capable soldiers as men and those who oppose it argue that women are not suited to frontline combat.

Body paragraphs must look at the arguments, beginning with the writer’s main argument.

Paragraph one
The writer claims that it is male prejudice that is preventing women to fight in the frontline. By referring to events from 30 years ago the writer is suggesting that those who believe that women should not be in the frontline are old fashioned. This argument is an appeal to the desire to be up-to-date and modern. The writer also suggests that those who believe that is worse for women to be killed in combat are prejudiced or irrational. This technique suggests that those who oppose women being on the frontline have not thought about the issue but only make judgments based on prejudice.

Paragraph two
The writer explains that other countries allow women to fight in the frontline this shows the writer to be knowledgeable about the topic. This argument also suggest that Australia is old fashioned compared to these countries. In this paragraph the writer also uses evidence from recent army tests to support the argument drawing on expert opinion. This makes the writer seem knowledgeable and authoritative on the subject and thus likely to convince the reader.

Paragraph three
In paragraph three the writer rebuts the argument that women should not be exposed to the dangers of frontline combat. The writer’s use of the phrase “old soldiers” implies that this is an old fashioned view and the writer suggests that this is also based on an outdated view of soldier’s work.

Paragraph four
The writer states that the army requires more recruits suggesting that placing women in roles of direct combat is a practical measure to resolve the army’s recruiting problems. In addition, the writer suggests that women have been disadvantaged by the current policy and this technique is designed to show sympathy for women in this situation and to portray the writer as supporting women’s rights. The writer builds on this point by suggesting that “modern women” do not want to be protected by men because this is a form of prejudice and women want to be treated as equal.

Conclusion
Sum up the issue without making judgment.

In your Language Analysis (or Analysing Argument) SAC, you will be required to analyse how language is used to persuade in three or more texts. While this may seem a bit daunting at first, it really isn’t much harder than a single text analysis once you know how to approach it. Of course, there are multiple ways to tackle this task, but here is just one possible method!

Introduction:

Begin with a sentence that briefly describes the incident that sparked the debate or the nature/context of the debate. Remember to use the background information already provided for you on the task book!

Next, introduce the texts one at a time, including the main aspects for each (eg. title, writer, source, form, tone, contention and target audience). You want to show the examiner that you are comparing the articles, rather than analysing them separately. To do this, use appropriate linking words as you move onto your outline of each new text.

Consider significant features for comparison, for example:

  • Is the tone/style the same?
  • Is there a different target audience?
  • How do their key persuasive strategies differ?

You may choose to finish your introduction with a brief comment on any key difference or similarity.

Sample introduction: The recent return to vinyls and decline in CD sales has sparked discussion about the merits of the two forms of recorded sound. In his feature article, For the Record, published in the monthly magazine Audioworld in June 2015, Robert Tan contends that vinyls, as the more traditional form, are preferable to CDs. He utilises a disparaging tone within his article to criticise CDs as less functional than vinyls. In response to Tan’s article, reader Julie Parker uses a condescending and mocking tone to lampoon Tan for his point of view, in a letter published in the same magazine one month later.

Body paragraphs:

Block structure

Spend the first half of your essay focused on Article 1, then move into Article 2 for the second half of your essay (and, for those doing three articles, the later part of your essay based on Article 3). This structure is the most simple of all, and unfortunately does not offer you ample opportunity to delve into an insightful analysis. Hence, we would not recommend this structure for you. If possible, adopt the Bridge or Integrated structures discussed below.

Bridge structure

Analyse the first text, including any visuals that may accompany it. Students often spend too long on the first text and leave too little time to analyse the remaining texts in sufficient depth, so try to keep your analysis specific and concise! Remember to focus on the effects on the reader, rather than having a broad discussion of persuasive techniques.

Linking is essential in body paragraphs! Begin your analysis of each new text with a linking sentence to enable a smooth transition and to provide a specific point of contrast. Continue to link the texts throughout your analysis, for example, you could compare:

  • The tone
  • The techniques of each writer and how these aim to position the reader in different ways.

Often your second and/or third texts will be a direct response to the first, so you could pick up on how the author rebuts or agrees with the arguments of the first text.

Integrated structure

In this type of structure, you will analyse both articles in each body paragraph. Watch Lisa's video above (coming soon) for a sample paragraph based on this structure.

Conclusion:

In Lisa's video above, she suggested a short and sweet summary in your conclusion by incorporting some quotes from the author's own conclusion. 

Alternatively, you could opt for a different approach. In your conclusion, aim to focus on how each text differs from the others in terms of the main techniques used by the author, and more importantly, the effect of these techniques on the reader or audience. You should summarise the main similarities and differences of each text without indicating any personal bias (ie. you should not state whether one text might be more or less persuasive than another). For example, a point of comparison could be the audience appeal - will any particular audience group be particularly engaged or offended? Why?

Finally, finish with a sentence suggesting a possible outlook for the issue. Good luck!

By the way, did you know that our Ultimate VCE English Study Guide includes a more comprehensive review of structuring two or more articles on language analysis?

*This blog post was originally created by Christine Liu, with additions made by Lisa Tran to suit the new modifications in the English study design.

Click here to check out FREE snippets from the course!

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