STEP 1: READ THE TEXT
What is the text about?
What is the broader context?
What is the main contention?
How does the writer feel about the issue? That is, what is the tone of the piece?
STEP 2: RE-READ, HIGHLIGHTING PERSUASIVE TECHNIQUES
Note: What is the style of the piece?
Annotate: Highlight any persuasive techniques used.
Note in the margin what each of these techniques is trying to make the audience think, feel or do.
STEP 3: ORGANISE YOUR NOTES
Organising your ideas and notes is crucial.
A comprehensive table – similar to a summary with headings
The Summary Table
(writer, including their status if known; title of the article; title of publication; date and page number)
(feature article, letter to the editor, editorial etc.)
(the broader issue or debate to which this article is contributing)
(to whom is this article directed?)
(main point or argument)
(the form of expression, e.g. formal, informal, direct, descriptive etc.)
(the mood of the language used, e.g. serious, angry, sarcastic etc.)
POSITIONING OF READER
Imagine you are the target audience: what is the trying to make you THINK, FEEL and/or DO?
WHAT IS BEING SAID?
What supporting arguments/points are used to support the main contention?
HOW IS IT BEING SAID?
What persuasive techniques are being used?
What are some examples from the text of each persuasive technique?
STEP 4: WRITING YOUR INTRODUCTION
The sample format includes all the elements necessary for your introduction. Note that these sentences can be combined or their order changed.
Sentence 1: Briefly comment on the broader context of the issue being addressed by the article.
Sentence 2: Provide details of the article and, in your own words, state its main contention – that is, what the creator of this media text wants to contribute to the debate.
Sentence 3: Note the tone and style of the text.
Sentence 4: Summarise the purpose of the text.
Various community groups often remind public transport providers that access needs to be given to all members of the public (indicates broader context). In a letter to the editor published in the Herald Sun, John Smith (article details; this can also include date) responds to the opinion piece written earlier in the week by Disable of Carnegie (particular context). Smith contends that bike riders should have rights equal to those of wheelchair riders when travelling on the trains at peak hour (identifies main contention). In a forthright style and generally angry tone, the letter addresses all train travellers, both those with wheelchairs, bikes and prams, and those without (identifies style, tone and intended audience. Purpose – to argue for the rights of all train travellers).
STEP 5: WRITING THE BODY PARAGRAPHS
As with paragraphs in any expository essay (i.e. an essay that presents and explains information), start with a strong topic sentence. The topic sentence can focus on: one aspect of what the language makes the reader think, feel or do, e.g. the article aims to shock the audience into accepting that…
a dominant persuasive technique used in the text, e.g. a blunt headline and strong emotive language shock the reader…
The rest of the paragraph should expand on the topic of this opening sentence. Note some of the techniques used and how they persuade the reader/viewer. You will need to provide evidence from the text to support your explanations and comments. This evidence may be direct or indirect quotes.
Tips for body paragraphs
Use the following tips to improve your body paragraphs in language analysis essays.
Make the audience or the language the subject of your sentences. For example: the reader is encouraged to believe that … or The explicitly raw language shocks the audience into