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Analyzing Persuasive Texts to Increase Comprehension

Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

Are you studying persuasive texts, but feel like you do not understand the content? This lesson will show you how understanding the structure, organization, and features of a persuasive text can actually improve your understanding of the text itself. Read on, to learn more.

What is Persuasive Text?

The first thing we need to do is make sure you understand the kind of text you are reading. Persuasive text is a form of writing that aims to persuade the reader to take on a particular point of view, opinion, or idea. If you have ever had a sibling try to convince you to sneak extra snacks for them, or a friend explain why you should let them copy your homework, you are familiar with how persuasion works.

Persuasive texts come in many different types:

  • Speeches
  • Discussions
  • Reviews (movies, restaurants, books)
  • Arguments
  • Advertisements
  • Debates
  • Essays
  • Expositions, or
  • Slogans

While they are often be used to inform readers, persuasive texts can also be used to entertain or sway an audience. Think about commercials or advertisements that use gimmicks and silly slogans so you will be convinced you must buy their product. To improve comprehension of persuasive texts, it helps for you to understand their specific structure, organization, and features. That is what we will go over in this lesson; so, let's get started.

Persuasive Text Structure and Organization

Persuasive texts are organized into four main parts:

  • Introduction
  • Body of Text
  • Conclusion
  • Concluding Statement

The text is structured this way, in order to best inform and persuade the reader. Each part has an important role to play, so let's go over them in a little more detail.

Introduction

The introduction is the opening statement that presents the issue or topic the author will be writing about. The author will include his or her opinion, or point of view, as well as a description of what will be discussed in the text.

Main Body of Text

The main body of text is comprised of paragraphs, which each state their own argument or point. This is where the author will state his or her case, and aim to persuade the reader to agree with the opinion or point of view that is being shared. The paragraphs will usually be ordered in sequence of importance, and will include supporting evidence, references, or facts to support the argument being made.

Conclusion

The conclusion is used to wrap up the persuasive text by restating the issue or topic that was discussed, providing a brief summary of the arguments that were presented in the main body of text, and then transitioning into a concluding statement.

Concluding Statement

The concluding statement is the final assertion the author makes to try and convince the readers to take on the opinion or point of view that has been shared.

Persuasive Text Key Features

There are some key features that will be present in persuasive texts. Key features are used to grab your attention, draw you in, and persuade you. Persuasive texts will use:

  • Present tense
  • Exaggeration and flattery
  • Catchy titles, slogans, and names
  • Repeated words and rhetorical questions
  • Facts and statistics
  • Pronouns, powerful adjectives and verbs

So why use these features? Think about how often you use exaggeration, flattery, facts, and rhetorical questions when you are trying to get something you want! It is all starting to make sense, now, isn't it?

Improving Comprehension

Once you understand the structure, organization, and key features of persuasive text, you can begin working on ways to increase comprehension of what is actually being presented. One of the best ways to do this is to ask questions about the organization, structure, and key features.

There are plenty of detailed questions you can ask when it comes time to study a piece of persuasive text. These examples will lead to a better understanding of the text's content, which will improve your overall comprehension of both the text's argument and purpose.

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