GEP English Enrichment - The Art of Rhetoric

One of the communication skills that GEP students will be taught during their GEP journey is the art of rhetoric.

Rhetoric is the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, where language is used to produce a convincing or impressive effect on the audience being addressed.

The art of rhetoric dates back to the Classical period of ancient Greece, when rhetoricians used this persuasive form of public speaking to address their fellow citizens in discussions and debates. Today, rhetoric is still an integral part of human discourse, utilised by skilful communicators to present or argue their points of view.

In our GEP English enrichment programme, we introduce students to the three rhetorical appeals promulgated by one of the greatest Greek philosophers who ever lived, Aristotle.

Ethos involves your credibility as a speaker. If you are an expert or have some sort of professional certification based on the topic you are expounding upon, your credibility increases. According to Aristotle, three factors determine ethos: how smart you seem, how believable you are and how pure your motivations appear to be.

Pathos depends on how well you appeal to your listeners’ emotions. Clear imagery, interesting anecdotes and emotionally-charged language all contribute to more powerful pathos, and ultimately to persuasive success.

Logos measures the logic of your speech as a whole. By providing statistics to back up some of your statements and using sound reasoning in your arguments, you infuse your speech with greater rhetorical power. For example, it is far more persuasive to say, “According to the National Hawker Association, the average price of a plate chicken rice has risen by 30% in the past 5 years.” than “I find myself paying more for a plate of chicken rice every time I visit a hawker centre."

Here are some activities we got our students to try out in class in order to flex their rhetorical muscles.

  • Imagine you are trying to persuade your parents to play a game with you. How would you use ethos to try and persuade them?

  • Imagine you baked some cookies and you want to persuade your teacher to buy them. How would you use pathos to try and persuade your teacher?

  • Imagine you want to convince your cousin to eat more fruits. How would you use logos as a persuasive technique?

Think of some topics that interest your children and challenge them to argue a case using a combination of the three rhetorical appeals. Not only will it be a fun family activity, your children will learn how to organise their thoughts and present them in a logical, coherent and persuasive manner!

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