Language devices – emotive language

Writing for the purpose of expressing and supporting an opinion using persuasive devices.

How can I make you care about my topic?

The expression of human feelings, emotions, opinions and judgements is very rich and complex and involves delicate language choices. Children in Stage 3 need to investigate how vocabulary choices, including evaluative language can express shades of meaning, feeling and opinion. Words that express attitudes
can be ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.

Behaviour Positive (good) Negative (bad)
Expressing emotions (affect).
  • happy.
  • happiness.
  • happily.
  • sad.
  • sadness.
  • sadly.
Appreciating things (appreciation).
  • beautiful.
  • beauty.
  • ugly.
  • ugliness.
Judging behaviours (judgement).
  • clever.
  • cleverness.
  • cleverly.
  • stupid.
  • stupidity.
  • stupidly.

from A New Grammar Companion for Teachers Beverly Derewianka, e:lit Primary English Teaching Association 2011 www.petaa.edu.au

General strategies

Demonstrate to students how they can make a collection of persuasive language or emotive words used in persuasive texts to keep as a resource for their writing in a journal.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: collecting emotive words in context

Students can collect words in pairs from websites about current issues. Students can then prepare to teach the pronunciation and meaning of the words to other students.  Words can be collated to add to class word walls or vocabulary journals.  Students should be encouraged to keep
a record of the word in the context of the sentence to assist with learning how to use the word appropriately.

For example the Behind the News website has a comment section which is a good source of emotive language. Transcripts of the news reports are also a good source www.abc.net.au

"I think that the amount of plastic that is placed and found in the ocean is a disgrace. To think that people could be so cruel to our environment and our animals is truly awful. I think that life would be really great if we all used to eco friendly bags you can choose to buy at the shopping centre.
It is absolutely terrible to think that innocent marine life is dying due to humans throwing various plastic bits and pieces into their habitats. If it were those poor marine animals would we enjoy having humans ruin our lives just by their silly actions?"

This short text yields several emotive words that can then prompt brainstorming of synonyms:

  • disgrace.
  • truly awful.
  • absolutely terrible.
  • innocent.

Students can be shown how to form nouns from adjectives or vice versa and can write sentences in pairs using both forms of the word on sentence strips or mini whiteboards.

Adjective Noun
disgraceful. disgrace.
innocent. innocence.

Synonyms – (terrible, disastrous, disgraceful, atrocious, awful, shocking) can be used for word clines or semantic gradients.

Activity 2: ranking

Students could be given several persuasive comments in pairs and asked to rank them from most persuasive to least persuasive and discuss reasons for their choices.

Activity 3: revise the new vocabulary

The meaning of the words and how to use them in context appropriately can be practised using Spellingcity.com

The Teach Me activity reads and spells the word out loud and provides a sentence orally.

Students could create a Powerpoint presentation to teach their collection of words to others, incorporating an audio of their example sentences and an image.

Thinglink is an online tool for collating vocabulary.

Activity 4: make your own bingo

Students can select about ten items from a list of persuasive words provided by the teacher and write them down on a blank bingo board. The teacher reads out clues for the students to guess the words. Students cross off the word as they hear the meaning. For example, we use this adverb when we are very
sure about something, it starts with d, it has four syllables etc. (definitely).

References

Australian curriculum

ACELA1523: Text structure and organisation: Understand how ideas can be expanded and sharpened through careful choice of verbs, elaborated tenses and a range of adverb groups/phrases.

NSW syllabus

EN3-6B: Outcome 6: uses knowledge of sentence structure, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary to respond to and compose clear and cohesive texts in different media and technologies  (EN3-6B) - Respond to and compose texts: select appropriate language for a purpose, e.g. descriptive,
persuasive, technical, evaluative, emotive and colloquial, when composing texts

NSW literacy continuum

WRIC11M5: Aspects of writing, Cluster 11, Marker 5: Selects appropriate language for purpose, e.g. descriptive, persuasive, topic, technical, evaluative, emotive, and colloquial.

Teacher resources

List of resources that would be beneficial for the teacher (background information etc.):

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