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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Often beginning a Language Analysis essay can be tough. How do you start? Do you even need to write an introduction? There are many answers to these questions- some say that because an introduction is not explicitly worth any marks, you don’t need to bother. However, an introduction can be a great way to organize your thoughts and make sure you set up your analysis properly … as long as you don’t waste a lot of time writing unnecessary sentences.
To do this, you can use a simple, easy to remember formula that will help you to identify the key aspects of the piece very early on, and will show your examiner that you know exactly what you’re talking about- all you have to do is to remember the acronym “CDFASTCAT”.
Here is a breakdown of each aspect and its importance:
Context: This gives the audience some background information on the issue, and “sets the scene” for the article or text. In ANY language analysis article/piece you come across (whether it be in the exam or in practice), there is always a box with the context of the article explained. ALWAYS read it and let it influence your analysis. If you exemplify consideration of the information provided to you in your analysis, you will show a deeper understanding of the issue, and your analysis will be more accurate and detailed. Aim to demonstrate that you understand why the article was written, and its surrounding circumstances.
Date: This gives the article a wider context, and helps the audience to understand why the author may have a certain viewpoint. It is also good practice to properly reference the article in your analysis, which includes the date, author, source, and title.
Form: The form of a Language Analysis text can vary, from newspaper articles, blogs, comics, or even speeches. Each form has its own set of conventions which can help you identify language techniques, and can change the way the message is communicated to the audience. For example, in a speech, the speaker is more likely to directly address their audience than the editor of a newspaper may in an editorial.
Author: When writing a Language Analysis essay (or any essay for that matter), always refer to the author by either their full name, their surname only, or a title and a surname- NEVER by their first name alone. For example: “Lyle Shelton”; “Mr. Lyle Shelton”; “Mr. Shelton”; “Shelton”, and “Lyle Shelton” are all ok to use in your essay. However, you would never use “Lyle” on its own.
Source: The source of a text can influence your understanding of the audience. For example: an article written on a blog about gardening is likely to have a different audience than a financial journal. Including the source is also an important so that the article is properly referenced.
Title: Including the title in the introduction is critical to properly introducing the article. Remember to analyse major techniques in the title if there are any during the body of your essay!
Contention: Identifying the author’s contention can be the most difficult aspect of Language Analysis for many students. The trick is to ask yourself the question “What is the author’s argument?” If you want to break it down even further, try asking: “What does the author want to change/why/what is it like now/what do they want it to be?”
Audience: Depending on the audience, different techniques and appeals may work in different ways. For example, an appeal to the hip-pocket nerve is more likely to have an effect on single parents who are struggling financially than it is on young children or very wealthy people.
Tone: You should not include a tone word in your introduction as the author’s tone will shift throughout the text. However, identifying the tone early is important, and so you can later acknowledge any tonal shifts.
Picture: Often articles will include some sort of graphic; it is important that you acknowledge this in your introduction and give a brief description of the image- enough so your analysis can be read and understood on its own. The description of the image is the equivalent of an embedded quote from an article; both are used to provide evidence to support your analysis.
If you follow this, hopefully your Language Analysis introductions become easy to write, straight to the point, and full of all the most important information- good luck! ☺