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Unit 1 ‘Exploring language’: sections A, B and C (Language under the microscope, writing about Topical issues and Comparing and contrasting texts)
Unit 2 ‘Dimensions of linguistic variation’: sections B and C (Language in the media and Language change)
Unit 3: Independent language research and the Academic poster.
In terms of the language levels it will support learning with regard to lexis and semantics; grammar including morphology; phonetics, phonology and prosodics; pragmatics; and discourse.
The language of speeches, as opposed to the language of speech, needs to be clearly identified as pre-planned language used primarily for the purposes of persuasion in an initially oral context. Although therefore delivered in a spoken context (whether by a politician in a speech or by a character in a play) it in fact can be seen to have far more in common with written rather than spoken discourse. ‘Rhetoric’ was one of the three classical modes of discourse (along with logic and grammar), and these three subjects came to be known as the ‘trivium’, the core of the seven liberal arts studied in medieval universities. Some understanding of this historical context is important, and should certainly be used to stretch the more able candidates; however, it should be remembered that this is an English Language A level and not an A level in Rhetoric!
Common misconceptions or difficulties students may have:
The differences between spontaneous and planned speech.
The fact that ‘rhetoric’ can be employed in both spoken and written modes of communication. How to approach a speech (an ostensibly ‘spoken text’) as an organised, cohesive and coherent piece of discourse and not in terms of conversational analysis.
Some of the formal elements of classical rhetoric are difficult to understand- and to spell!
Conceptual links to other areas of the specification – useful ways to approach this topic to set students up for topics later in the course:
Focus on patterns of lexis, grammar, phonology, pragmatics and discourse in speeches (Component 1 sections A, B and C, Component 2 sections B and C, and Component 3)
Explore the differences between planned and spontaneous speech (Component 1 section C, Component 2 section B and Component 3) Diachronic comparison of speeches over time (Component 2 section C and Component 3)
Develop speech writing skills of individual candidates (all of the above, but especially Component 1 section B)
The key contexts which can be used to teach and reinforce understanding are:
Persuasive language- Get into their minds (introductory unit):
Looking at ways in which contemporary spoken and written texts seek to influence their audiences
Play on their heartstrings:
Looking at the ways in which a charity webpage aims to get money from its audience.
Political discourse (All politicians are bad, aren’t they?):
Exploring the key features of three political speeches.
Words worth dying for?:
Exploring the construction of powerful speeches in literature and film, and then looking at a chilling example from real life.
Classical and Medieval Rhetoric:
An introduction to the basics of rhetoric.
Comparing speeches with speech:
Comparing a planned and a spontaneous piece of discourse on the same topic- consumerism.
Two Queens called Elizabeth:
Comparing two speeches made by two Queens in times of national crisis to their people.
Rhetoric and Social Media - What’s in a tweet?
How three very different texts seek to persuade their audiences: an advert, a speech and a political flyer. The focus should be on using the language levels to deconstruct each text.
Give students copies of the three texts (a Microsoft blog for Windows 10, a leaflet opposing Gay Marriage and King Theoden’s speech from ‘The Return of the King’) in Learner Resource 1 (or you could use Learner Resource 2 to introduce the texts) and ask them to look for the following patterns:
Lexis- striking collocations, unusual vocabulary, repetition
Grammar- use of pronouns, metaphor and simile, imperatives/declaratives/interrogatives, repetition (syntactic parallelism)
Phonology- patterns of sound around key messages and concepts (alliteration and consonance, assonance, rhyme)
Pragmatics- implied messages and values, assumptions of shared context between receiver and producer
Discourse- organisation of the text from parts into a whole
Depending on ability/numbers it might be best to allocate a language level to a small group for discussion: they can then feed their ideas back to the whole class. Write a short analysis of each text.
1) Produce a graphic representation (for example a mind map or another kind of graphic organiser) which summarizes the key linguistic strategies which make each text persuasive
2) Go away and find your own example of a persuasive text (stick to the three genres used here, ie an advert/blog, a leaflet and a speech).Prepare a short ppt. for the class.
Analysing a charity webpage, before getting students to construct their own page. Using free software such as weebly.com candidates can construct a basic webpage for a fictional charity of their own devising (either individually or in groups). The key aim is explore the context of the discourse.
Look at the example of a charity webpage provided in the link. Answer the following questions:
How does the design and organisation of the page help ‘sell’ the message?
What are the key repeated messages in the text?
How does ‘Alfie’s’ story add to the impact?
What impression does the page create of the NSPCC? Try to link your ideas to specific words and phrases.
Use weebly.com to create your own webpage for a charity.
Get students to deconstruct the web pages created by the rest of the class. This could take the form of either a short written analysis or of a short talk (with notes). Vote on a list of top 5 features from across the language levels which they think are most effective.
Contextualize both speeches and then listen/read. Students should then discuss the questions on the activity sheet. Students should be encouraged to focus on the idea of ‘message’ here and to think about the pragmatics of each speech in terms of the core values and ideals each seeks to uphold. Can they turn these values and ideals into concise, explicit statements?
To compare two famous speeches delivered by politicians for two very different purposes (Ronald Reagan on the Challenger disaster and the end of Mandela’s speech at his trial in 1962).
Students to apply what they have learnt so far about persuasive language to understand why these two speeches are so famous and so powerful.
Watch the video clips and read/discuss and analyse the two speeches (these can be found in Learner Resource 3) (group work + plenary).
To draw up a list of 10 key features for each speech with regard to lexis/grammar/phonology.
Write a comparative essay of the two speeches.
Produce a summary of the key message of each speech in 50 words or less (a prize for the shortest example!) An interesting comparison can also be drawn between Reagan’s speech and that of George W Bush after the Columbia space shuttle disaster in 2003 (also to be found in Learner Resource 3) - especially in terms of the similarities between the two and their very different emotional impact.
Students to apply what they have learnt so far about persuasive language to understand why these two speeches are so stirring and so powerful.
Watch the video clips and read/discuss and analyse the two speeches found in Learner Resource 4 (group work + plenary).
To then look at the extracts of speeches by Jim Jones before the massacre of 1977 (Learner Resource 5). Begin with the song ‘Mao Tse Tung Said’ by Alabama 3 which samples Jones heavily, before analysing the extract from his final speech before the mass suicide.
Students should produce graphic organisers summarizing the key linguistic features of each speech. A Venn diagram might work effectively here.
Write a comparative essay of the two/three speeches.
Write your own before battle speech to your followers - try one of the following contexts or pick your own:
A lieutenant to his soldiers in the trenches before the Battle of the Somme.
A general to his men before the Normandy invasion of World War 2.
To learn about and to study some key elements of classical rhetoric and then to apply this to some of the texts previously studied. To produce an academic style poster about rhetoric.
Introduce the concepts of ethos, pathos and logos using the weblink.
Use the Rhetoric Key terms found in Learner Resource 6 to introduce and discuss key features of classical rhetoric.
Using the three concepts and some of the new terms who have learnt, go back and analyse three of the texts you have studied earlier in the unit.
For each text, produce an A4 poster presenting the key messages regarding ETHOS, LOGOS and PATHOS - students might need an explanation of what these terms mean.
Use the amercianrhetoric.com website to add to your knowledge of classical figures of rhetoric (follow the link for Figures in Sound).
Draw up a class glossary of terms with examples taken from as wide a variety of sources as possible (this could be web based, or illustrated).
Give one key term to each student and make a short ‘talking heads’ video in which each student talks about and illustrates the term they have been given.
To compare a piece of spontaneous discourse with a scripted speech on a similar topic. To clarify and develop critical understanding of the differences between these two modes of communication.
Revise key features of conversation and spontaneous speech (you could use either, or both, of the powerpoints found in Learner Resource 7 and in Learner Resource 8 OR Learner Resource 9 for an outline of key features of conversation). Study and compare two texts in Learner Resource 10 that are on the same topic- consumerism- one an example of crafted speech and one a spontaneous piece of spoken discourse (Renton’s ‘Choose Life’ speech from the film ‘Trainspotting’ and a transcript from the legacy spec H069, unit F651, Section B Question 2, May 2013) in which two young women discuss sun beds.
Draw up a check-list of key differences covering lexis/grammar/ pragmatics/discourse.
Write a speech either for or against legalising drugs to be delivered to your peers. Try to use at least four of the rhetorical devices you have studied in the previous activity.
To compare two famous speeches by two queens sharing the same name but separated by over 400 years, in order to explore similarities and differences in rhetoric and speech over time.
Read, analyse and compare two speeches by Queens Elizabeth I and II at times of national crisis (the Spanish Armada and the death of Princess Diana) which are in Learner Resource 11. Focus on the ways in which lexis, grammar and discoursal features help to create a sense of national identity and shared values between the monarch and her subjects.
Identify common strategies and present them visually via a graphic organiser of your choice.
Write a comparative critical analysis focusing on similarities and differences in the linguistic (and especially the rhetorical) strategies employed by each speaker to persuade their audience.
Rewrite the older text in modern English (you could also try the reverse but it may prove too challenging!).
To apply knowledge and understanding of rhetorical language by analysing a series of tweets on a related topic (the US presidential election).Introduce the idea of tweeting - give an overview of key features of tweeting.
To read, discuss and analyse a series of tweets from recent months about the US Presidential election found in Learner Resource 12, focusing on the use of rhetoric.
Ask students to find their own examples of tweets for discussion and analysis.
Study other social media platforms such as Facebook (for example the pages organisations)
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