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Teachers: Literacy: Sentence

Last Updated: Wednesday August 10 2005 16:30 GMT

Persuasive language


A festival goer braves the wet weather after flooding in parts of the Glastonbury Festival
Several Glastonbury goers attempted to sell festival mud on the online auction site, eBay.

This lesson encourages students to use persuasive language to sell "ice to Eskimos!"

Learning aims
  • To recognise and use persuasive language
  • To write for a target audience

Muddy legs at the Glastonbury Festival

Define the word persuasive: To influence, win over, convince.

Ask students to look out for persuasive language in this story.

The story and the following questions are available as a printable worksheet.

Ask students:

1. What would persuade you to pay 74 for some Glastonbury mud?

2. What age and type of people would be most easily persuaded by the two adverts on eBay?

Explain that such people are the target audience.

Students take a closer look at the language used by the two people trying to sell Glastonbury mud:

  • "Couldn't get a ticket? Had to watch it on TV or read about it? Well, here's a chance to own your own little piece of Glastonbury."

  • "Carefully collected" and "framed very beautifully" in a beech box frame.
3. Why did the first seller use two questions? Questions force you to answer, giving the advert a personal touch.

4. Why did the second seller use two adverbs - carefully and beautifully? Adverbs and adjectives add details which make the product special.

5. Why does the second seller mention a beech box frame, rather than just a frame? Adding details which describe what the product looks, sounds, feels, tastes and smells like, such as beech box frame, encourages the reader to imagine what it would be like to have the real thing.

Main activity

Each student creates a spider diagram with the following headings:

  • Unusual item to sell. E.g. air.
  • Special qualities of product. E.g. breathed in by David Beckham.
  • Age group targeted. E.g. teenagers.
  • Typical interests of target audience. E.g. football.
  • Questions to engage the reader. E.g. Want to get closer to the England footie dream team?
  • Words describing what the product looks, sounds, feel, tastes and smells like (if appropriate).
  • Other persuasive sentences to sell the product.
In groups, students decide on the most marketable idea from their spider diagrams.

Each student writes a 50-word online advertisement for the group's chosen product which will persuade their target audience to buy it.

Students share their ideas and pick out sentences containing the most persuasive language. The best sentences are combined to create the group's final version of the advert, which is read out to the class.

Extension activity

Students look at other adverts, underlining persuasive language and explaining how each technique works.

Other techniques to look for:

  • Generalisation, using words such as always, ever, never
  • Similes and metaphors
  • Exaggeration
  • Emotive language
  • Rhetorical questions
  • Endorsement

Students read out some of the less persuasive sentences they originally wrote and explain why they replaced them with the final versions.

Curriculum relevance

English / KS 2&3 / En3 Writing

1b. To broaden vocabulary and use it in inventive ways.
1d. To use language and style that are appropriate to the reader.
9c. To persuade, focusing on how arguments and evidence are built up and language used to convince the reader.

The numbers refer to the KS2 National Curriculum Programme of Study for English.

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