Teaching rhetoric is a vital part of any curriculum, especially if you are teaching foreign students English. While learning a language, rhetoric simply cannot be ignored. It is all well and good to know the right grammar, have a high-class vocabulary, and to have the right accent, but if you do not have rhetoric then you will be unable to have serious conversations and debates with anyone in the language. After all, most jobs, occupations, and walks of life involve arguments and debates with people. Whether debating with a colleague, arguing with a competitor or your girlfriend, or just having a conversation over a few drinks, it is necessary to have the right rhetoric.
While teaching language classes at University, students must be taught the right etiquette and techniques for having rhetoric in that language. Sometimes it may be similar to what the students are used to, but a lot of times cultural differences mean it can be very different. This means that a student may be trying a method of rhetoric in their conversation that just does not apply to the language that they are now learning.
Students must be able to analyze arguments that are made. Being able to see what others are saying about a topic, and differentiating between two different people’s arguments is an essential component of knowing a language. Sometimes these differences can be subtle. By encouraging students to have debates and discussions in class, these skills can be taught. When a student is forced to discuss in class, they have to go beyond their comfort zone and use analytical skills in the new language that they otherwise would not.
Students must be familiar and comfortable with public speaking in the new language. If they are not, chances are they will not be comfortable in conversing with a native speaker anytime soon. By doing public speaking exercises, such as having these argument presentations, they will be more comfortable speaking. You can even get custom lanyards and identification cards to create the atmosphere of a business conference in your classroom. I came up with this idea because I work as a marketing consultant for a factory that produces lanyards, so I could get some lanyards easily, but you can either buy them or collect them from friends who got them at conferences they went to. Creating atmosphere in the classroom is very important, since that way your students will feel more relaxed speaking when using foreign language and speaking in front of a lot of people. The students should be encouraged to write the main points of their arguments on note cards, so that they can be well prepared. Using graphs and charts is also helpful, because it allows students to organize their thoughts on paper and it also gives them a guideline to fall back on while they are presenting.
Students also need to be taught how to establish their own arguments and present them, in a debate styled setting. should be given topics that they can relate to, so that their own personal opinion comes through. Sometimes teachers give them topics themselves and force them to analyze and develop arguments for those topics. That is helpful, but it is more helpful to naturally make the student think of a topic that bothers them or forces them to think on a daily basis. Then, analyzing that and establishing arguments for that topic will be more useful to them. That is because it will be similar to what they will have to do on a regular basis once they learn the language. This will be a preparation for them, and with the right preparation in no time they will be experts at analyzing arguments.
Presenting the argument is the final phase of rhetoric. When someone learns a new language they can make the mistake of using the wrong words at the wrong times, and thus ending up saying something they do not really mean. That can really sway an argument, so students must truly understand how specific arguments must be worded and how they must be spoken and presented.
Teaching rhetoric, arguments and analysis is the most important part of teaching a language. It is the way in which a language is translated into a way of thinking for the student. Instead of just words and sentences that have little meaning, students will develop an in-depth understanding of how to speak the language, what words to say in certain circumstances, and how to hold proper conversations and arguments.