Practically Persuasive

3. Text Analysis: Structures, Language Features and Nominalisation

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To understand how text structures and language features vary across persuasive texts
  • To understand the process of nominalisation

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can identify some of the language features of persuasive texts
  • I can nominalise a word or a clause
  • Visual stimulus such as an artwork (suggested in 'Get started' phase)
  • Written stimulus
  • Sample text analysis: docx PDF
  • Graphic organiser T-Chart: pptx PDF

In this stage of the sequence the focus is on modelling or deconstructing texts to focus explicitly on their structures and language, examining how language choices shape meaning and building metalanguage.

It is strongly recommended that teachers review all suggested stimulus texts prior to their use to ensure their appropriateness and to enable rich, respectful discussion. For guidance on text selection refer to the Teaching and Learning Resources — Selecting Appropriate Materials policy.

Present students with a visual stimulus to prompt thinking about how the text structures and language features of persuasive texts vary according to the medium and mode of communication. Consider using an artwork, for example, Richard Bell’s ‘Pay the Rent’, or Ali Gunmillya Baker’s ‘Racist Texts’.

Suggested discussion prompts:

  • What is your initial response to this visual text?
  • What do you think the purpose of this visual text might be?
  • Who do you think the intended audience might be?
  • What techniques does the author or artist use to communicate with the audience?
  • Has the author used text as well as images? Why might text have been used? How effective is its use?

Ask students to engage in a ‘think, pair, share' activity responding to a more explicit question about mediums and modes. For example:

  • How might the message or argument of this visual text be communicated differently if it was delivered in written or spoken form?

1. Modelled text analysis

Building on the ideas generated by the ‘think, pair, share’ activity, model the features of a persuasive text with your class by selecting two texts on the same topic from different modes. A written opinion piece, for example ‘We will not accept Australia Day on 26 January without resistance’ or ‘Bloody Australia Day’ and a television advertisement such as ‘Save Australia Day’ would work well.

Read through the written text with your class and screen the visual material. Ask students to take notes on the argument of each text using a T-Chart or by adapting the sample text analysis table available in the 'Materials and texts' section above.

Display a copy of the written text on the board or provide students with a hard or digital copy. Using the sample text analysis table, guide the class in an explicit analysis of the structure and language of the text. Include discussion about the difference between stated and implied meaning in texts and explicitly discuss the practice of nominalisation.

2. Collaborative text analysis

Support students to repeat the process of analysis for the second text in small groups, inviting them to highlight the way in which the text structures and language features differ between the two texts. Suggested areas of focus for both texts are:

  • Rhetorical devices
  • Topic sentences and paragraph structure
  • Connectives
  • Modality
  • Intensifiers
  • Nominalisation
  • Stated meaning
  • Implied meaning
  • Lexical cohesion

Allow time for the groups to share their thinking with the class, providing evidence to support their analysis. Revisit key ideas and provide clarification and feedback as required.

3. Collaborative learning

Discuss the way in which nominalisation allows a writer to convey objectivity by abstracting ideas and concepts, revisiting the definition of verbs, adjectives, nouns and clauses as appropriate. Provide an example of nominalisation for students and then work together to identify nominalisation in the texts you are analysing in this class. An example:

“Many Australians won’t talk about the way we celebrate our history, which lets everyone down.

The refusal of Australians to discuss historical celebrations is a national disappointment.”

Enable students to grasp the concept of nominalisation by allowing time to experiment with the process and by providing multiple examples of nominalisation. Work with small groups to add suffixes to verbs or adjectives to create nouns, and practise identifying the differences between simple sentences and their nominalised forms.

Extend students by providing them with an excerpt from additional formal texts on a related topic and asking them to work backwards to ‘reverse’ the process of nominalisation. A ‘cheat sheet' may be useful for this task.

Nominalisation is a complex concept, and it is recommended that sufficient time be provided for students to understand this process. There are many resources available to support students with this learning.

Collaborate with students to create a Venn diagram comparing the features of the two persuasive texts that have been analysed. Use a digital program to create the diagram or draw it on the board or on an anchor chart.

Ask students to evaluate their own teamwork skills and their contribution to the group process. You could provide a list of skills that are useful for working in a group, or collaborate with students to co-create a checklist or rubric outlining or grading those skills. Skills might include:

  • respectfully listening to and considering opposing views
  • effectively managing conflict around differences in ideas or approaches
  • helping to keep the group on track
  • working to meet deadlines
  • equitably distributing workload.

Invite students to complete an exit ticket explaining the purpose and impact of nominalisation in a persuasive text, or co-create a nominalisation anchor chart. A table outlining examples of ‘everyday language’ and its nominalised equivalent can be found in the ‘Using feedback to increase the sophistication of student writing’ section of the Secondary Literacy Teaching Toolkit.

4Syllables, 2019. Verbs: Nominalisations cheat sheet. [Online]
Available at: 4syllables.com.au/resources/verbs-nouns-cheat-sheet/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Bell, R., 2000. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Collection: Pay the rent. [Online]
Available at: www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/203.2010.a-b/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Canva, n.d. Design anything. Publish Anywhere. [Online]
Available at: https://www.canva.com
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Coleman, C., 2018. We will not accept Australia day on 26 January without resistance, The Guardian. [Online]
Available at: www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/25/you-can-have-australia-day-any-other-day-we-wont-accept-26-january-without-resistance
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Fiona Foley Exhibitions, 2016. Breast plates (from horror has a face). [Online]
Available at: www.fionafoley.com.au/exhibitions
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Gumillya Baker, A., 2008. Artlink, Camping in the shadow of the racist text. [Online]
Available at: www.artlink.com.au/articles/4674/camping-in-the-shadow-of-the-racist-text/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Mulvahill, E., 2019. Anchor charts 101: Why and how to use them. [Online]
Available at: https://www.weareteachers.com/anchor-charts-101/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

NSW Government, n.d. Teaching Strategies, Nominalisation, Activities to support the strategy, Activity 1: adding suffixes to words. [Online]
Available at: education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/student-assessment/smart-teaching-strategies/literacy/writing/stage-3/spelling/nominalisation#References2
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

ReadWriteThink, 2019. T-Chart. [Online]
Available at: www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/printouts/chart-30225.html
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

SBS News, 2018. Mark Latham launches dystopian Save Australia Day ads. [Online]
Available at: www.sbs.com.au/news/mark-latham-launches-dystopian-save-australia-day-ads
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

State Government of Victoria, (Department of Education and Training), 2019. Literacy Teaching Toolkit, Think/pair/share. [Online]
Available at: www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/english/literacy/speakinglistening/Pages/exampleclasstalk.aspx
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

State Government of Victoria, (Department of Education and Training), n.d. Literacy Teaching Toolkit, Overview of multimodal literacy. [Online]
Available at: www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/english/literacy/multimodal/Pages/multimodaloverview.aspx
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

State Government of Victoria, (Department of Education and Training), n.d. Literacy Toolkit, Comprehension, Literal, inferential and evaluative levels of comprehension. [Online]
Available at: www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/english/literacy/readingviewing/Pages/litfocuscomprehension.aspx#link100
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

State Government of Victoria, (Department of Education and Training), n.d. Victorian Curriculum F–10 Consolidated Glossary. [Online]
Available at: https://victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au/LearningArea/LoadFile?learningArea=english&subject=english&name=English%20Glossary.docx&storage=Glossary
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

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