About the project
Writing Skills and Speech Writing courses are both part of the CBSE boards Core English Curriculum. As an extension of this, my students did a project on writing and delivering speeches. Emphasis was placed on the difference between written and spoken styles. The project included a study of Pathos, Ethos and Logos, Aristotle’s classical tools of persuasion and an in-depth understanding of rhetorical devices. To recognize the collaborative nature of speechmaking, students worked in groups. The emphasis throughout was on developing critical thinking.
How can the tools of rhetoric and persuasion be used to make speeches more effective?
It started with an introduction to the different types and purposes of writing– descriptive, narrative, informative and persuasive. This was followed by understanding the differences between speeches, articles and debates. A study of Pathos, Ethos and Logos, Aristotle’s classical tools of persuasion and the use of rhetorical devices was part of this project phase. Students listened to and studied well-known speeches by Martin Luther King, Shashi Tharoor and Jawaharlal Nehru. Listening, viewing, reading and writing tasks were interspersed throughout these 3-4 days.
Next, my students attempted to collectively draft an introduction to a speech from a list of topics presented to them. After completing the introductory part of their speech, they worked on the main body and refined it using facts and favourable arguments. As they ideated, wrote, rewrote and refined their main ideas they had to use critical thinking and work in a very collaborative atmosphere.
After this, one speech from each group was presented to their groups and the class. Feedback from these sessions was incorporated and the speeches rehearsed a few times. Finally, during project culmination the speeches were delivered at an assembly to the entire school.
Teaching aids used
Chart showing how Logos, Ethos and Pathos work together to persuade List of rhetorical devices used in language Attention grabbing ways to start speeches Link to videos of speeches by Barak Obama, Shashi Tharoor, Jawaharlal Nehru and Martin Luther King
The Writing Project is an engaging and enriching part of the English department’s calendar at Nirmal Bhartia School. As a teacher, my aim was to expose children to various genres of writing and ensure that they spend quality time, dabbling with the assigned genre over a period of two to three weeks. Grade XI was assigned the genre of speech writing keeping in mind the needs of the students who will be required to write speeches during student council elections.
When my students deliver original speeches to audiences comprising of students from grade VI to X, I feel that the entire exercise of the Writing Project was indeed effective. I do not expect my students to gain absolute mastery over the genre but what is more important is their engagement with the writing process. The entire process of ideating, organizing drafting, enhancing and effective delivery proved to be an immense learning experience. I cannot forget remember how shocked they were on realizing that advertisers employ tools of persuasion on a daily basis to appeal to their audiences.