Persuasion is sometimes called an art, the idea of convincing the reader to agree with the speaker or writer. It’s a technique that learners of any level, to some degree, should practise.
It takes many wonderful forms, so even a beginner can start to use it in their speaking or writing. More advanced candidates are definitely expected to employ persuasive techniques to move a conversation forward, reach an agreement, or to write an effective proposal or report.
Here is a brief run down of popular methods and some examples!
These beauties add emphasis to their writing and it’s always possible to teach a few, emphatic adjectives for them to throw around.
“The beautiful blue sapphire”
“A wonderful Monday morning”
Descriptive and Evocative Speech
Words that conjure nice images and are nicer than the more common, less sparkly ones!
“The boiling hot day”
“The freezing cold winter morning”
The use of very strong, suggestive language. In an attempt to reach the feelings and emotions of the reader or listener.
“He gave us a revolting looking pasta dish”
“The actions of the politician were horrendous“
Exaggeration / Hyperbole
Overstating is a great, and easy, way for learners to express themselves. When trying to convince another student in a debate, or you when they write an essay or a report. Stating the point more than is necessary.
“His house is a mansion”!
“My school is miles away”!
By generalising in their speech or writing, a learner might seem authoritative or knowledgeable. The point they are making might play on common stereotypes or cliches, so will sound familiar and persuasive.
“The kids at my school are very posh and boring”
“Politicians in this country are dishonest”
Proof / Statistics / Diagrams
This is a sure fire way to persuade someone! Provide proof and evidence. For the purposes of your English lesson, the information doesn’t have to be real. Alternatively, you could provide real life situations and knowledge for learners to use, so that their work is all the more accurate.
“67 percent of Americans disagree with that statement”
“Research has shown that almost two-thirds of us are sleep-deprived”
Including The Reader / Listener
By making inclusive statements and pulling the reader, (or listener) into the debate, your learners can encourage people to agree with them by default.
“I think I speak for everyone when I say that jam doughnuts are the best”
“We must all agree with him that the situation is unacceptable”
Drumming the same point into their heads several times makes it difficult to forget! Making the idea prominent and persuasive for the reader / listener.
“Thanks Mum, this food is really really delicious”!
“I will never ever ever go to that hotel again, it’s disgusting”!
These sound a bit complicated for beginner learners, but they don’t have to be at all. Just a simple, yes or no question to emphasise an obvious choice.
“Do you really want to go there now? It’s really cold and your favourite show is on”!
“Are we really going to vote for the person who wants to increase taxes?”
Complimenting or Denigrating
To assert and remind people of the viewpoint they hold, a learners might attack or praise a particular topic or opinion.
“Her opinion is completely disgusting”!
“My brother’s promotion is totally deserved, and well overdue”!
Showing obvious bias to one side of the argument is easy to achieve and is quite convincing, as they are only presenting one side of the argument.
“There is clearly no evidence to support her claims”.
“My boss is obviously wrong when he says things like that”
Saying that one thing is like another, can be useful for a multitude of things! Including exaggeration.
“My dog runs like a rocket”
“She is like a goddess, so beautiful”
Over dramatising the point and making it seem more that it actually might be. This gets attention and stirs up potentially strong feelings or emotions.
“This system is shockingly corrupt”
“My brother is so unbelievably lazy, he could watch the world burn and do nothing”!
This one can be considered difficult because it requires a good imagination in a second language, and also a fantastic range of vocabulary.
“The pretty pink poster”
“It requires a lot of soul-searching”
Stories / Anecdotes
Relating personal, funny or serious experiences with others is a great way for learners to make themselves relatable and hopefully gets people into their camp.
“I remember one day I was working on the site, and I saw a man falling over on the street. So I ran to pick him and dust him down, after that we had a really interesting conversation for hours! That’s why we should always appreciate the experiences of the older generation”.
In some cases, over used expressions can be pleasantly familiar to the reader / listener, and therefore create an affinity between them and the writer / speaker.
“He’s got me over a barrel and I have no idea what to do”!
“She’s as fit as a fiddle”
Using the emotional card stirs up emotion and plays into people’s fears, weaknesses, affinities, or other feelings.
“I’m begging you to join me in signing this petition, it’s so important for our future”
“As fellows patriots, you must join me in condemning this intolerant behaviour”!
Small jokes or humorous plays on words can be persuasive to people who respond to laughter!
“When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds”
“I used to be a baker but I didn’t make enough dough”
Perhaps with all of these techniques, you might be able to persuade your students to do their homework!
Did you find this article useful? Anything to add? Let me know in the comments!