Bonnie Waltz, Tracy Rains, Deanna Mayers
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
9, 10, 11, 12
Argument, English, Language, Rhetorical Devices, wa-ela
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
Media Formats:
Downloadable docs, Interactive, Text/HTML, Video

The Art of Language

The Art of Language


The words we choose to communicate with can be quite tricky. In fact, great writers are considered artists because of their language skills. In this seminar, you will learn how to enhance an argument by choosing your words carefully and “playing” with the language. Rhetorical devices (a fancy term for “persuasive words”) will be a significant aspect of your artful language.


CC.1.2.9-10.H: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing the validity of reasoning and relevance of evidence.

CC.1.4.9-10.C: Develop and analyze the topic with relevant, well-chosen, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic; include graphics and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

CC.1.4.9-10.G: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics.


Introductory warm-up activity.

At this link, you will find the Top Ten Speeches of all time, according to TIME Magazine. Read at least one of the speeches and make notes along the way about particular words or phrases you felt were most effective in the argument. Remember, an argument is necessarily yelling, “I’m right and you’re wrong.” Often, an argument is simply a convincing speech about a particular idea or belief.


Explore these resources to learn about the art of language. You can pick and choose to read, watch, then do the activity  listed.  


Read this list of rhetorical devices, including definitions and examples. Along the way, try to come up with your own examples as well. Read this as well to better understand rhetoric and its purpose.

Watch this video called Introduction to Rhetoric. It includes an in-depth explanation of rhetoric along with examples.

Create a mind map that allows you to explore the rhetorical devices in this seminar (alliteration, anadiplosis, asyndeton, litotes, metaphor, diacope, anaphora). As you map out your ideas about each devices, avoid too much thinking time--a mind map should allow you to freely express your ideas as they come to you. Since most mind maps contain a central idea, allow your central idea of rhetorical devices to branch off into those specific devices. In case you need it, here is a good example of a mind map regarding the sport of tennis.



Discuss your ideas / opinions / understandings.


Write a letter to your friend who missed the lesson on rhetorical devices. Express the importance of these devices and include examples for clarity. In your letter, use rhetorical devices to enhance your argument. Remember, a good letter opens with a greeting and ends with a complimentary closing (ex: Best Regards, Steve) Before you write, consider these questions: What are rhetorical devices? Who uses them? Why are they especially important in a persuasive speech? How can they be used in everyday life, especially in instances of persuasion?


Now it is time to self check how much you have learned about the art of language.  If you do not know as much as you thought, go back to the “Explore” section of this seminar and reread, rewatch, or redo the activities listed.  See your facilitator if you have questions.

Click here to take the quiz online. You do not have to log into the quiz site in order to take this quiz. If a window pops up asking you to sign up for the quiz site, just close the sign-up window and start your quiz.


This is a task or project where you can show what you know.


Write a persuasive speech about a topic of personal interest. The speech might be delivered at some point or it may stand as a well-constructed, written argument (great speeches are, at first, great pieces of writing). Be sure to include opening and closing remarks with strong body paragraphs in between. Also, include examples of the seven rhetorical devices from this seminar. Spread them throughout the speech (not all in the first or last paragraph). Here is a link to topic suggestions; however, feel free to select a topic not found on this list. Adhere to this rubric as you write your speech.


Complete this wrap-up activity where you reflect on your learning.  

Reflect on the idea of using rhetorical devices in an argument. Consider these questions: Which devices are easiest to grasp? Which devices still confuse you? How can you use these devices in speech, writing, or everyday life? Why is an argument with rhetorical devices more effective than one without the devices?