Persuasion and Influence

4. Analysing Persuasive Techniques in Written Texts

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To understand how authors use language, images and evidence to present their views and influence the reader

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can identify the author’s intention or point of view
  • I can identify and discuss an example of evaluative language
  • I can identify the evidence the author uses to support their point of view
  • Multiple copies of a persuasive text for modelled, shared and independent reading.
  • Coloured highlighters
  • Brigitte Bardot letter: docx PDF
  • Text analysis table: docx PDF
  • Brainstorm: Purpose and features of persuasive texts: docx PDF

This stage of the sequence continues to build the context or field of persuasive texts. Modelled and collaborative writing practices are used to construct texts.

Display an image from the cover of Cats in Australia: Companion and Killer.

Contextualise the image for the students. Explain that this is the cover of a recent study that estimates that cats kill 1.5 billion native animals every year in Australia.

Discuss how the authors have used a powerful image, colour and emotive words, Companion and Killer, in the title to influence the reader.

Invite the students to offer an opinion about cats. You could record and sort their responses as facts, opinions, evidence or anecdotal stories on an anchor chart.

You may also wish to discuss the terms 'evaluative language' (language selected to suggest the worth or quality of a process or thing) and 'emotive language' (language selected to invoke a strong emotional response). 

Text analysis

Model reading and summarising the persuasive features of a suitable text. For example, War on feral cats: Australia aims to cull 2 million. Discuss the use of the term ‘War’ in the heading and the date and source of the article.

Demonstrate how to summarise information from the text using a think-aloud strategy and record the relevant details under the suggested headings below:

  • Main idea/point of view
  • Evaluative and emotive language
  • Evidence to support the author’s point of view.

Suggest that students work in collaborative pairs to analyse two texts with different points of view and record the key features of each in the text analysis table available in the Resources and texts section. Possible texts include Brigitte Bardot’s open letter to Minister of the Environment and Natural born killers: The problem with cats

Invite each collaborative pair to share their work and combine ideas with another group.

Enable students to analyse the text by inviting them to join guided or reciprocal reading groups, or completing an analysis of one text rather that two.

Extend students by suggesting they investigate texts presenting different points of view on another topic and analyse how each text has used persuasive devices, evidence and expert opinion to support their arguments. Encourage students to identify rhetorical devices such as alliteration, repetition, and exaggeration. Possible texts could include a Behind the News report on the Adani Coal Mine, a video by the Guardian News, Fact v Fiction , a video clip presenting views for and against the mine and a news report arguing the benefits the mine. Students could also use a table to analyse these texts using an information, source and viewpoint lens. The text could also be examined to distinguish between facts and opinions.


Exploring evaluative language

Ask students to suggest nouns that refer to cats. For example, puss, cats, kittens, pets, companions, felines, house cat, domestic cat, farm cat, shed cat, wild cat, hunters, feral cat, introduced species, pest, vermin, predators, killers.

Discuss how some of these words are subjective, evaluating the worth or quality of cats. Write the words on cards, and invite students to construct a vocabulary cline. A cline is a scale of language that goes from one extreme to another, for example positive to negative, or from light to dark. Invite students to explain how they sorted the words and to elaborate on their thinking.

Display the following text:

Cats are fabulous little predators. They’ve honed their skills over millions of years and, despite appearing beguilingly fluffy and adorable, they are swift and silent killers.

Invite students to suggest the author’s point of view, and to elaborate on their word choice.

Ask students to rewrite the passage, replacing the underlined words to alter the meaning of the text.

Extend students’ awareness of the emotive language used in the text and to recognise the gradations in meaning by constructing a vocabulary cline using other evaluative language examples.

Review the text analysis charts and vocabulary exercises completed by the students.

Display a mentor text clearly. Read the text with the students, identifying the main argument, evaluative and emotive language and any evidence that the authors use to support their point of view. Encourage students to identify particular text and language features. Annotate the text summarising each text feature.

Collect student text analysis charts and vocabulary exercises to assess against the success criteria.

ABC News, 2015. Brigitte Bardot condemns Environment Minister Greg Hunt's plan to cull 2 million feral cats. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

ABC, 2017. Behind the News, Adani Coal Mine. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Australian Resources and Energy Group, 2017. Time to fully understand the benefits of Adani’s Carmichael Project. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

CSIRO Publishing, n.d. Cats in Australia: companion and killer. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Doherty, T., 2015. The Conversation, Feral feast: cats kill hundreds of Australian animals. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Guardian News, n.d. Fact V Fiction: Adani’s Carmichael coal mine – video explainer. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

McNeill, E., 2017. Australia and Adani mine. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Ministry of Education, Te Kete Ipurangi, n.d. Clines. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Pickerell, J., 2019. Australian Geographic, Natural born killers: the problem with cats. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Power, J., 2017. The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘The war on feral cats: Australia to cull 2 million. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

State Government of Victoria (Department of Education and Training), 2019. Literacy Teaching Toolkit: Modelling through think alouds. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

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