Language argumentation as educational technology in journalism students training

UDC 378.016: 81.22
Publication date: 01.03.2021
International Journal of Professional Science №3-2021

Language argumentation as educational technology in journalism students training

Barebina Natalia S.,
Zakharova Daria P.,
Fang Zhiyong,

1. Associate Professor, Department
of Foreign Languages
Baikal State University,
Russian Federation, Irkutsk
2. Graduate Student
Faculty of Philosophy, Art, and Journalism
Baikal State University,
Russian Federation, Irkutsk
3. PhD Student,
of Foreign Languages
Baikal State University,
Russian Federation, Irkutsk
Abstract: The article raises the problem of argumentative technologies working. Three aspects of argumentative discourse are presented, confirming that these technologies are an integral part of the pedagogical process in journalist’s training.
The logical aspect is considered from the point of view that reasoning and explanation in pedagogical activity occur according to certain rules of proof. The persuasiveness in the educational dialogue and in the monologue statement depends on this. The language aspect of argumentation is presented in the article from the point of view of the development of the linguistic competence of the students majoring in Journalism. Specific phenomena are indicated that illustrate the fact that the argumentative principle in the language prevails over the informative one. Such phenomena include polyphony, argument words, argumentative structures indicators. The cognitive aspect of argumentative discourse is presented in the form of the genesis of ideas about communication in cognitive science. According to the cutting-edge of science, argumentative communication makes it possible to obtain data on the features of a person's linguistic interaction in a biosocial and cultural environment.
The article deals with the language aspect of argumentation and the role of rhetorical figures as one of the aspects of the development of pedagogical technologies are considered. Extra-logical devices in argumentation include expressive means of language. These include rhetorical techniques and figures of speech, which have a speech influence potential.
The considered scientific directions illustrate the promise of argumentative technologies from the point of view of practice, theory of the educational process, as well as in order to form the linguistic competencies of journalists.
Keywords: argumentative technologies, rhetorical figures, logical approach, cognitive approach, language argumentation.

To the problem statement

Despite the abundance of argumentation treatments, the mutual for them is the interpretation of the last one as verbal and cogitative activity [14], which is connected with the ways of validation of frame of reference and with the notion of persuasion. These characteristics of argumentation determine its widespread use in the development of social relations and models. Means and methods of argumentation as technologies of persuasion are used in such social spheres as marketing, advertising management, copywriting, journalism, PR-activity, namely, where there is a need to influence the audience’s views and beliefs through speech. Theoretical issues regarding the role of argumentation in these areas are covered in several works [4; 11; 20; 24], practical ways of argumentation as the technologies of influence are used in seminars, webinars, and training.

Unfortunately, the literature analysis does not allow us to assert that the possibilities of argumentation in the educational process receive systematic coverage. This aspect is mainly considered from the methodology point of view for writing essays. Meanwhile, there are reasons to speak not only about the methods of argumentation but also about argumentative technologies in education. This is confirmed by studies, where argumentation is considered both from the point of view of the implementation of the principles of individualization of teaching and as a factor in the formation of meaning in teaching [18]. Moreover, as noted in the monograph by A.V. Borovskikh and N.Kh. Rozov [5], pedagogical argumentation (italics ours) requires a serious rethinking regarding pedagogical activity logic. The authors consider this problem in connection with debated by teaching staff and officials issues related to pedagogical activity and the quality of teaching and learning [8].

We believe that the argumentative discourse implemented in pedagogical communication is fertile soil for research and development of teaching technologies. We proceed from the position that the argumentation is an immanent part of the educational process. Let us take a closer look at three scientific directions (logical, linguistic, cognitive), each of which confirms this statement and illustrates the promise of argumentative technologies from the theory of the educational process point of view.

Research Methodology The data for the present study is extracted from essays and papers on topics of the language sciences. For the sake of illustration, we have also included examples taken from journalism and history textbooks. When reconstructing the argumentative discourse we used methods of pragma-dialectical approach to argumentation, based on explication of the argument structure. The analysis of rhetorical figures is conducted using textual analysis and rhetorical theory.

Argumentative discourse in the educational process

From the standpoint of the logical aspect of the theory of argumentation, there is an explanation, reasoning, and proof in the process of transferring knowledge. These processes can be considered successful if rational methods and rules of argumentation are observed in them. These include the rules for substantiating the thesis, arguments, and demonstration. Thus, it is customary to single out three essential elements in argumentation: thesis, argument, demonstration. These three elements form the logical structure of the argument. The concept of rationality in application to argumentation presupposes the explicitness of all three elements in order to establish the relationship of logical consequence.

Given that the transfer of knowledge is one of the main types of pedagogical activity, an explanation or proof, in which it is possible to re-enact the logical sequence of reasoning completely, is the leading factor in both the success of the explanation and the success of all communication between the educator and the learner. As noted by S.Yu. Dashkova, a scientific and educational text, should be considered as a special kind of communication. These texts are usually considered to be logically structured, having clear, precise wordings, and structures [9]. In everyday speech, the logical structure of argumentation is not presented explicitly; however, a scientific and educational text that implements some reasoning is presented precisely in the form of argumentation structures.

As an example, let us consider a reasoning in which a particular case of argumentation is presented – proof, i.e., establishing the truth of a specific position using statements the truth of which has already been established.

Linguistic turn» in social scientific enquiry, has resulted in a swathe of research which implicitly suggests that newspaper texts can be studied in the same way as magazine texts, or in the same way as political speeches, or conversations across a dinner table, or a range of other discourse genres. Such an approach is appreciably wrongheaded. Aside from the differences between journalism and other genres that can be identified through first-level analysis of newspaper texts, journalism fulfils particular social functions; has been created by men and women in accordance with particular production techniques and in specific institutional settings; is marked by particular relationships between other agencies of political, judicial and economic power; is characterized by particular interpersonal relations between writer and reader; and is consumed, interpreted and enjoyed in ways that are specific. As Fairclough (1995, p. 204) puts it, journalistic texts are «the outcome of specific professional practices and techniques, which could be and can be quite different with quite different results [22, p. 152].

To prove the thesis «an approach to newspapers texts that can be studied in the same way as other texts and discourse genres is appreciably wrongheaded», a number of arguments are given: (1) «journalism fulfils particular social functions», (2) «it has been created by men and women in accordance with particular production techniques and in specific institutional settings», (3) «it is marked by particular relationships between other agencies of political, judicial and economic power», (4) «it is characterized by particular interpersonal relations between writer and reader», (5) «it is consumed, interpreted and enjoyed in ways that are specific», (6) «the outcome of specific professional practices and techniques, which could be and can be quite different with quite different results». All of these statements are true. The thesis can be the result of an inductive generalization of the arguments. Arguments (1)–(5) are valid since they are facts. Argument (6) is the citation. In this case, the arguments are combined into inferences of various kinds in such a way that together, they lead to the proof of the thesis.

Another form of educational communication is educational dialogue. A catechetical procedure is a way in which, using logically correct questions, one can lead a student to a particular conclusion.

Thus, the cogency of the educator’s written or verbal message depends on the degree of argumentation.

Another direction that confirms the presence of argumentation in the educational process is the linguistic approach, called «radical argumentation». It cannot be said that this direction is well known to the reader. One of the reasons is that most of the works were published in French. A feature article presented by G.M. Kostyushkina [15] shows that this approach should be the subject of more thorough scientific reflection.

This scientific school, the founders of which are the French scientists J.-C. Ansombre and O. Ducrot, possesses a number of original ideas built into a theory with a well-developed theoretical mechanism showing that the argumentative principle in the language prevails over the informative one. Any communication can be considered a situation of argumentation if the addresser formulates the statement so that it brings the addressee to another statement – the conclusion.

This theory demonstrates how various phenomena of argumentation are represented in the language system. We are talking about the so-called «argument words», acting as markers of argumentation in a particular discourse. Some of the researchers, who are working on this topic, posit the practicability of meting out «argument words» in a separate part of speech [19], by the presence or absence of which it is possible to judge not only whether a particular discourse is argumentative or not, but also to recognize argumentative elements. For example, some words and phrases indicate one’s point of view («we believe that …», «I am of the opinion that …»), indicators of complex, additional, creative argumentation («even», «besides …», «by the way»).

Let us look at an example: If you ask about the first institution a child experiences, the first thing that the reader would probably think about is the family. He, again, is right to a certain extent. For the vast majority of children, primary socialization takes place in the context of a particular family … And, of course, the family is an important institution. But the child does not know about it [17, p. 93–94]. In this example, the author constructs the statement in such a way that it becomes clear that he adheres to a moderately negative point of view that the family is the «first institution» for the child. The transition word «but» indicates that there are two opposite conclusions (of the topos): «the first institution for the child is the family», «the first institution for the child is not the family». This fragment also illustrates the phenomenon of polyphony, that is, the presence and comparison of different points of view. It becomes clear that the author, while partially agreeing with the first conclusion, still distances himself from it and undertakes to defend the second conclusion. The author’s thesis is explicated in further reasoning: … It is with the help of language that the child receives information about the wide world «outside», the world that is mediated by the adults around him, but which in no small extent surpasses them. The words «probably», «again», «and», «of course», «but» in this example 1) serve as indicators of the direction of argumentation and movement of thought and 2) are indicators of the structure of argumentation (complex, compositional, subordinative).

The third direction is characterized by a shift in the focus of argumentation research from logical and textual elements to the situation of verbal communication. The tasks and methods of research of argumentation in projection on the plane of cognitive science are diverse. In some works, argumentation is analyzed as the transmission of an oral or written argumentative message (information) from the addresser to the addressee with a subsequent change in the latter’s cognitive structures (first-generation cognitive science). For example, A. N. Baranov takes into consideration the process of argumentation as a process of «ontologization of the knowledge» [2]. The scientist describes this process as the process of integrating new knowledge into the model of the addressee’s world, as coordinating new knowledge with the addressee’s existing ideas about reality.

In other studies, argumentation is interpreted as a process of interaction, in which there is a mutual influence of the addresser and the addressee, with the consideration of the mental and physical state. Thuswise, in Gilbertian approach, argumentation is viewed not only as a set of propositions transmitted to the addressee but also as statements related to the mental state (feelings, emotions, intuition, beliefs). The model proposed by the scientist (coalescent argumentation) takes into account the physical state, elements of non-verbal communication, «body language», gestures, facial expressions [21]; in other words, the author extrapolates the idea of the somatic nature of mind and its embodiment, which is illustrative of second-generation cognitive science, to argumentative interaction.

In third studies, argumentation is considered as a type of speech behavior [12; 13], including in a particular social sector [3]. This is due to the tendency, observed in modern science, to consider linguistic phenomena through the prism of characteristics of a person as a biosocial-cultural being, which is illustrative of third-generation cognitive science.

Ergo, the presented approaches, firstly, illustrate the position of the significant role of argumentation in the educational process, and secondly, show the prospects for further research in this area. Further we will consider the features of argumentative discourse as part of the educational process’s technology, namely, on the linguistic aspect of argumentation.

The role of rhetorical figures in argumentation

The result of modern research in argumentation theory has become the necessity to differentiate the logical and linguistic (communicative) aspects of argumentation. This is due to the fact that in demonstrative reasoning, which is a procedure for presenting premises and conclusions based on different types of formal system or logic, where the conclusion is derived from previously accepted premises; according to G. M. Kostyushkina, only one from the functions of «Argumentatif» is realized [15, p. 247].

Another function, the function of persuasion, which is realized in «interpersonal argumentation» (the term of M. Gilbert [21]), involves the use of other means, namely, a complex of rhetoric and language means, defined by A. N. Baranov as «natural language argumentation» [2].

Here are two more observations regarding the role of logic in language argumentation.

1) Argumentation in the communicative process involves implication, a context that remains outside the scope of logic. Evidence in everyday speech, while often convincing, can have very little in common with formal logic. Contrariwise, a proof based on logical rules may not have convincing power at all. We will illustrate this observation with the statement of A. A. Volkov: «Logic affects, first of all, the human mind, but without influencing his feelings, it is not always possible to achieve convincing evidence … Therefore, in order for the proof to be convincing and the conviction to be argumentative, it is necessary to use both logical and non-logical methods of substantiating the thesis» [6].

2) An analysis of the literature in communication practice revealed the paradox – purely logical argumentation could have a destructive effect on the communication process. Thus, T. Gordon, relying on long-term observations, shows that responses in dialogue, which are logically correct judgments, are a kind of a barrier [7]. This happens because the logical argumentation is perceived by the partner in conversation as some moral teaching, a desire to change the train of thought and to show him in an unfavorable light or even to discredit. Quite often, the result is irritation, indignation, which leads to the fact that out of a feeling of contradiction, the conversation partner begins to defend his point of view or tries to hide his thoughts.

Thuswise, not only the logical but also the language aspect is a necessary component of the argumentative discourse, and the instructor’s task is to find the optimal balance of these two aspects both in direct communication with the students and in the creation of works of a scientific and educational nature.

The linguistic aspect of argumentation must be considered in connection with rhetoric. An important non-logical device in argumentation is the use of such verbal means as rhetorical figures of speech. This way of designing a statement affects the emotions of the addressee. Many studies look at the classification of speech figures. Several works analyze the use of specific rhetorical figures in order to enhance the expressiveness of speech. There are examples of the use of various figures of speech by famous writers and poets. However, these works mainly deal with the specific nature of figures’ use in artistic and poetic works. With that said, the analysis of linguistic argumentation in the educational process will reveal such unexplored possibilities of rhetorical figures as an influence on the persuasion process (1).

Let us consider some of the figures of speech used in works of scientific and educational nature.

Under the figures of speech, we, following S. Yu. Dashkova will understand «turns of speech that do not introduce anything new into the informative-factual side of the content, expressing emotional movement in the speaker and serving as methods of enhancing the statement and influencing the audience» [9, p. 228].

The most frequent is the antithesis – a figure based on the opposition of concepts realized at a word combination, sentence, or phrase level. Consider an example: A good PR person sentences investigation to death [1].

In this example, the antithesis arises from the contrast between «good person» and «investigation to death». Polar notions facilitate the perception of the material in which the author considers the feature of journalistic profession.

In the following example: So is a supranational, «supracultural» science of language possible? Pessimists will gloatingly reply: «No! And there is no concept of language either, there are only concepts of language, about which professionals and non-professionals agree among themselves …». Optimists will see the way to a bright future of the supranational linguistic metalanguage: sciences are indeed born in the depths of specific cultures… [10, p. 34]; the implementation of the antithesis is achieved by opposing two camps of scientists. The author convinces the reader of the advantage of one of them. The most influencing is the use of words that have a clear negative connotation – «pessimists», «gloatingly», and on the contrary – «a bright future».

Anaphora is a repetition of a word or a turn of a phrase at the beginning of parallel structures and, as Volkov puts it, «fanning the content of the speech at a certain semantic point of the presentation». Here is an example from M. Stoler’s lecture, where an anaphora with the word «she» is visible: There will her heart, America’s heart… But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy freedom… She is well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general course by the countenance of her voice … She will involve herself beyond the power of extra caution in all the words of interest and intrique of individual … She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit [23]. In this case, the anaphora is used to create emotional tension. This figure may contribute to a better memorization of the material.

A great influencing potential lies in the figure of an ascending gradation. This figure consists of two or more significant units arranged in increasing intensity. Let us consider an example: Misunderstanding of the true nature of natural language, incorrect assessment of its biological function and role in society have led and will continue to lead humanity to global conflicts and catastrophes that could have been avoided [16, p. 286]. The author uses expressions where the second element is more significant than the first: «have led and will continue to lead», «conflicts and catastrophes». In the same example, we see the enumeration technique, which is often used to highlight the most significant concepts. Clearly, this technique was used by the author in relation to the concept of «natural language» in order to show its complexity.

Gradation (climax) is a pick-up in each subsequent element of constructing the word of the previous element, forming a chain of related parts. For example: In effect, they boldly reasserted as series of principles that declared the entire Hemisphere to be an American sphere of influence. Principles that they did not have yet the power to enforce, but that Adams realized the British would enforce in their own interests [23].

Such a rhetorical method of organizing an argumentative text as a question is widespread. It is important to note that this is not a rhetorical question, which is an affirmative statement in the form of a question that does not imply an answer, but a hypothetical question. Such a question, being a means of attracting attention, often precedes a paragraph or a section: Epilogue: Quo Vadis? [16, p. 288]. The hypothetical question helps to formulate the main idea. At the same time, the author himself answers the questions posed: Is all the talk about branding just so much hype? In a word: no. I think that branding is the most important point your company can consider – and everyone should consider it [25, p. 10].

The next two figures are descending gradation and zeugma. These figures are known to be used in fiction to create a comic effect. However, in scientific and educational speech or text, these figures, meeting infrequently, presumably, are designed to attract the listener/reader’s attention or galvanize the material’s presentation.

Ergo, a descending gradation is a figure that is obtained by violating the principle of «growth» that underlies an ascending gradation, when an objectively insignificant concept follows a more significant concept. Thus, several expressions descending in strength are formed: The history of the development of cognitive linguistics over the past ten years provides grounds for such optimism. Sometimes, however, it is premature [10, p. 34].

Zeugma is a technique in which a word that forms the same type of combinations with several different words appears in the statement only once: at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the statement: If you adhere to this course of behavior, dropping, by the way, a word here and a phrase there, you can one day hear from (former) students something testifying that in due time the grain fell on fertile soil [1, p. 160].

Discussion. This article presents only a small part of the figures of speech. In educational and scientific texts and lectures, there are often such rhetorical devices as a quotation, allusion, ellipsis, less often – polysyndeton, ploce, symploce, et cetera. However, even a small overview of rhetorical figures’ functioning in argumentative discourse in the framework of educational and scientific oral or written works allows us to draw some conclusions.

Firstly, given that argumentative discourse is characterized by rigid targeting, figures of speech are not only a means of enhancing expressiveness in speech and texts of a scientific and educational nature but also a means of increasing the effectiveness of speech influence.

Secondly, given the need to work with large texts, a dry, standardized presentation of scientific information does not at all contribute to the ease of its perception. Therefore, expressive oral or written speech is necessary for optimizing students’ mastering of the material.

Thirdly, it is the language, not the logical level, that is of most importance for an ordinary listener. Clearly, in real-life argumentation, the addressee does not analyze the argument’s arrangement and does not identify the source of its premises. Words are convincing.

Fourth, the use of rhetorical figures contributes to the expression of the author’s position, his point of view on the problem being treated. Therefore, the introduction of these speech means into the argumentative structure allows the author to influence the educational material’s mastering.

In this regard, we note the importance of the instructor’s formation of communicative-speech knowledge about rhetorical figures, the importance of developing the skills of the conscious use of figures when solving specific learning problems. It is also worth noting the danger of being overly addicted to rhetorical techniques, known as «weaving words» and «growing words».

The considered rhetorical techniques by no means exhaust the possibilities of argumentation as a technology. Such educational process forms as educational dialogue, dialogic games, and analysis of educational situations (Case Study method) are useful. The main idea of such classes, which are recommended to be carried out among students, is that students use argumentation in order to come to a conclusion in the discussion by mutually exchanging views through adduction of evidence and refutations. The efficiency of these forms of classes from the point of view of individualization of training contributes to the formation of a dialogue experience, namely, the skills of tolerance, the ability to accept criticism, and freely polemicize both with other students and with the educator.

Conclusion. Projecting the preceding onto the previously presented problem of the development of learning technologies, we find that, on the one hand, the theory of argumentation should be studied as ways and methods of argumentation from the point of view of specific action-oriented recommendations, and on the other hand, as a theory that is important for understanding, planning and organizing educational process in a journalism or creative writing course.

[1] Do Opposites Attract? PR and Journalism. – URL : (date of access: 1.03.21).



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