Category Archives: communication

Background of Debates

Debating has a history as long as the history of man. The is evidence that debating dates back at least 4,000 years. From Egypt to china and even in poetry such as Homer’s “Iliad”  one can find examples of debating. Academic debating is believed to have started about 2,500 years ago with the work of Pythagoras.

We will look at the role of culture in debating as well as debate’s role in academics in the US along with some of the benefits of debating.

Debating and Culture

For whatever reason, debating is a key component of Western civilization and in particular Democratic civilizations. Speculating on why can go on forever. However, one key component for the emphasis on debating in the west is the epistemological view of truth.

In many western cultures, there is an underlying belief that truth is relative. As such, when two sides are debating the topic it is through the combine contributions of both arguments that some idea of truth is revealed. In many ways, this is a form of the Hegelian dialectic in which thesis and antithesis make syntheses. The synthesis is the truth and can only be found through a struggle of opposing relative positions.

In other cultures, such as Asian, what is true is much more stable and agreed upon as unchanging. This may be a partial reason for why debating is not as strenuously practice in non-western context. Confucianism in particular focus on stability, tradition, and rigid hierarchy. These are concepts there often considered unthinkable in a Western culture.

Debating in the United States

In the United States, applied debating has been of the country from almost the beginning. However, academic debating has been present since at least the 18th century. It was at the beginning of the 20th century that academic debating begin to be taken much more seriously.  Intercollegiate debating during this time lead to the development of several debate associations that had various rules and ways to support the growth of debating.

Benefits of Debating

Debating has been found to develop argumentation  skills, critical thinking, and enhance general academic performance. Through  have to gather information and synthesis it in a clear way seems to transfer when students study for other academic subjects. In addition, even though debating is about sharing one side of an argument it also improves listening skills. This is because you have to listen in order to point out weaknesses in the oppositions position.

Debating also develops the ability to thinking quickly. If the ability to think is not develop a student will struggle with refutation and rebuttals which are key components of debating. Lastly, debating sharpens the judgment of participants. It i important to be able to judge the strengths and weaknesses of various aspects of an argument in order to provide a strong case for our against an idea or action and this involves sharp judgment.

Conclusion

With its rich history and clear benefits. Debating will continue to be a part of the academic experience of  many students. The skills that are developed are practical and useful for many occupations found outside of an academic setting.

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Types of Debates

Debating has a long history with historical evidence of this practice dating back 4,000 year. Debating was used in ancient Egypt, China, and Greece. As such, people who participate in debates are contributing to a rich history.

In this post, we will take a look at several types of debates that are commonly used today. The types of debates we will cover are as follows.

  • Special
  • Judicial
  • Parliamentary
  • Non-formal
  • Academic

Special Debate

A special debate is special because it has distinct rules  for a specific occasion. Examples include the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. These debates were so influential that there is a debate format today called the Lincoln-Douglas format. This format often focuses on moral issues and has a specific use of time for the debaters that is distinct.

Special debates are also commonly used for presidential debates. Since there is no set format, the debaters literally may debate over the rules of the actual debate. For example, the Bush vs Kerry debates of 2004 had some of the following rules agreed to by both parties prior to the debate.

  1. Height of the lectern
  2. type of stools used
  3. Nature of the audience

In this example above, sometimes the rules have nothing to do with the actual debate but the atmosphere/setting around it.

Judicial Debate

Judicial debates happen in courts judicial like settings. The goal is to prosecute or defend individuals for some sort of crime. For lawyers in training or even general students, moot court debates are used to hone debating skills and mock trial debates are also used.

Parliamentary Debate

The parliamentary debate purpose s to support or attack potential legislation. Despite its name, the parliamentary debate format is used in the United States at various levels of government. There is a particular famous variation of this called the Asian parliamentary debate style.

Non-formal Debate

A non-formal debate lacks the rules of the other styles mentioned. In many ways, any form of disagreeing that does not have a structure for how to present one’s argument can fall under the category of non-formal. For example, children arguing with parents could be considered non-formal as well as classroom discussion on a controversial issue such as immigration.

This form of debate is probably the only one that everyone is familiar with and has participated in. However, it is probably the hardest to develop skills in due to the lack of structure.

Academic Debate

The academic debate is used to develop the educational skills of the participants. Often the format deployed is taken from applied debates. For example, many academic debates use the Lincoln Douglas format. There are several major Debate organizations that promote debate competitions between school’s. The details of this will be expanded in a future post.

Conclusion

This post provided an overview of different styles of debating that are commonly employed. Understanding this can be important because how you present and defend a point of view depends on the rules of engagement.

Persuasion vs Propaganda

Getting people to believe or do something has been a major problem on both an individual and even an international level. To address this concern both individuals and nations have turned to both persuasion and propaganda. This post will define both persuasion  and propaganda and compare and contrast them.

Persuasion

Persuasion is communication that attempts to influence the behavior or beliefs of others. This can be done through appeals to reason, appeals to emotions, or a combination of both. Often persuasion is done  on a small scale and is informal. Example would be a child trying to persuade their mother to let them go outside to play.

A more serious example would be a lawyer trying to persuade a judge. This involves one lawyer try to move the opinion of one judge. The goal here is for the lawyer to show the strength of their position while discrediting the position of others and the opposition.

Even though it is not on a large scale, persuasion works critical thinking, deep thought, with a thorough knowledge of the problem and the person(s) one is trying to persuade. Nothing can ruin persuasion like ignorance of the problem or people who you want to persuade.

Propaganda

Propaganda is persuasion on a large scale. It involves a group or organization of persuaders who combine their efforts to reach a large audience. The term propaganda was supposedly created in the 17th by Pope Gregory XV who in 1622 created the Sacred Congregation for the Propagating of the Faith. This group is responsible for spreading the Catholic religion in an evangelistic manner for conversions to the religion, which implies that propaganda is the spreading of ideas so that people accept them.

Edward Bernays is often seen as the master of propaganda. It was he who brought the use of propaganda to an art form in the early to mid 20th century. Ever the master of language and knowing the negative connotation of propaganda Bernays used an alternative term publicly on many occasion called “public relations.” This is the term essentially all institutions used today even though it has the same primary characteristics of propaganda which is to influence public opinion about something.

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, generally, the term propaganda is viewed negatively even though it is simply massive organized persuasion. This may be because propaganda is usually used for nefarious purposes throughout history. For example, Hitler used propaganda to strengthen the Nazi party. However, all countries are guilty of developing  propaganda for reasons that may not be completely altruistic in order to support their position in a competitive world.

Comparison

Persuasion and propaganda are in many ways opposite extremes of the same idea. What persuasion is on a small scale propaganda is on a large scale. However, it is hard to tell how big persuasion has to become before it reaches the level of propaganda. One indication may be in perception of the message. People who disagree with a position may call it propaganda, while people who agree with the message may call it persuasion.

Both persuasion and propaganda involve the use of planning and serious thought. Propaganda may involve more planning as it requires a large group of people to impact a  much larger audience. Finally, when persuasion and propaganda fail it may lead to something more sinister called coercion. This is when people are not necessarily forced to believe but usually to do something.

Conclusion

Whether persuading or sharing propaganda it is important to be aware of how these two terms are similar and different. Generally, the difference is a matter of scale. Persuasion is a local personal form of propaganda while propaganda is a massive impersonal form of persuasion

Critical Thinking and Debating

Debating is a commonly used activity for developing critical thinking skills. The question that this post wants to answer is how debating develops critical thinking. This will be achieved through discussing the following…

  • Defining debate
  • Debating in the past
  • Debating today

Defining Debate

A debate is a process of defending or attacking a proposition through the use of reasoning and judgement. The goal is to go through a process of argumentation in which good reasons are shared with an audience. Good reasons are persuasive reasons that have a psychological influence on an audience. Naturally, what constitutes a good reason varies from context to context. Therefore, a good debater always keeps in mind who their audience is.

One key element of debating is what is missing. Technically, debating is an intellectual experience and not an emotional one. This has been lost sight of over time as debaters and public speakers have learned that emotional fanaticism is much more influential in moving the masses the deliberate thinking.

Debating in the Past

Debating was a key tool among the ancient Greeks. Aristotle provides us with at least four purposes for debating. The first purpose of debating was that debating allows people to see both sides of an argument. As such, debating dispels bias and allows for more carefully defined decision-making. One of the  characteristics  of critical thinking is the ability to see both sides of an argument or to think empathically rather than only sympathetically.

A second purpose of debating is for instructing the public. Debates for experts to take complex ideas and reduce to simple ones for general consumption. Off course, this has been take to extremes through sound bites and memes in the 21st century but learning how to communicate clearly is yet another goal of critical thinking.

A third purpose of debating is to prevent fraud and injustice. Aristotle was assuming that there was truth and that truth was more powerful the injustice. These are ideas that have been lost with time as we now live in a postmodern world. However, Aristotle believed that people needed to know how to argue for truth and how to communicate it with others. Today, experiential knowledge, and emotions are the primary determiners for what is right and wrong rather than cold truth.

A final purpose of debating is debating in order to defend one’s self. Debating is an intellectual way of protecting someone as fighting is a physical way of protecting someone. There is an idiom in English that states that “the pen is mightier than the swords.” Often physical fighting comes after several intellectual machinations by leaders who find ways to manipulate things. Skilled debater can  move millions whereas a strong solider can only do a limited amount of damage alone.

Debating Today

One aspect of debating that is not covered above is the aspect of time when it comes to debating. Debating is a way to develop critical thinking but it is also a way of developing real-time critical thinking. In others words, not only do you have to prepare your argument and ideas before a debate you also have to respond and react during a debate. This requires thinking on your feet in front of an audience while still trying to persuasive and articulate. Not an easy task for most people.

Debating is often a lost art as people have turned to arguing instead. Arguing often involves emotional exchanges rather than rational thought. Some have stated that when debating disappears so does freedom of speech. In  many ways, as topics and ideas become more emotionally charged there is greater and greater restriction  on  what can be said so that no one is “offended”. Perhaps Aristotle was correct about his views on debating and injustice.

Common Speech Functions

Functions of speech are different ways of communicating. The differences among the speech functions have to do with the intention of the communication. Different intention or goal leads to the use of a different function of speech. There are many different functions if speech but we will look at the six that are listed below.

  • Referential
  • Directive
  • Expressive
  • Phatic
  • Poetic
  • Metalinguistic

Referential

Referential speech provides information. For example, a person might share the time with someone (“It’s five o’clock” ). Referential speech can often provide information to a question (“what time is it?”).

Directive

Directives or commands that try to get someone to do something. Examples include “turn left” or “sit down”. The context of a directive is one in which something needs or should be done. As such, one person tries to make one or more other persons do something. Even children say directives towards their parents (“give me the ball”).

Expressive

Expressive speech shares a person’s feelings. An example would be “I feel happy today!”. Expressive communication can at times provide clear evidence of how someone is doing.

Phatic

Phatic speech is closely related to expressive speech. However, the main difference is that phatic speech is focused on the well-being of others while expressive speech focuses on the feelings of the person speaking.

An example of phatic speech is saying “how are you?”. This is clearly a question but it is focusing on how the person is doing. Another phrase might be “I hope you get well soon.” Again the focus on is on the welfare of someone else.

Poetic

Poetic speech is speech that is highly aesthetic. Songs and poetry are examples of language that is poetic in nature. An example would be the famous nursery rhyme “Roses are red, violets are blue…..). Poetic speech often has a powerful emotional effect as well.

Metalinguistic 

Metalinguistic speech is communication about language. For example, this entire blog post would be considered by many to be metalinguistic because I a talking about language and not really using language as described in the other functions of speech.

Exceptions

There are many more categories than the ones presented. In addition, the categories presented are not mutually exclusive. Many phrases can be correctly classified into many different categories. For example, if someone says “I love you” you could argue that it’s expressive, poetic, and or even phatic. What is missing is the context in which such a statement is made.

Conclusion

The ways in which we communicated have been briefly explained here. Understanding how people communicate will help others to better understand those around us and improve our style of communicating.

Accommodation Theory in Language Communication

Often when people communicate, they will make a subconscious or even a conscious decision to adjust their speech so that it is more alike or less alike. This is known as accommodation.

In this post, we will look at the following concepts related to accommodation

  • Speech convergence
  • Speech divergence

Speech Convergence

Speech convergence is when people speech starts to sound similar to each other. Often, this is a sign that the speakers are being polite to each other, like each other, and or when one speaker has the interest to please another.

Speech convergence is not only for social reasons. Another reason that a person will modify their speech is for the sake of removing technical jargon when dealing with people who are not familiar with it. For example, when a mechanic speaks to a doctor about what is wrong with their car or when a medical doctor speaks to a patient about the patient’s health. The modification happens so that the other person can understand.

Speech convergence can be overdone in terms of the perceptions of the hearers. For example, if a foreigner sounds too much like a native it can raise suspicion. Furthermore, over convergence can be perceived as insulting and or making fun of others.  As such, some difference is probably wise.

Speech Divergence

Speech divergence happens when people deliberately choose not to mirror each other speaking styles. The message that is sent when doing this is that the people communicating do not want to accommodate, seem polite, or perhaps that they do not like the people they are communicating with.

Examples of this often involve minority groups who desire to maintain their own cultural identity. Such a group will use their language judiciously, especially around the local dominant culture, as a sign of independence.

Accent divergence is also possible. For example, two people from the same country but different socioeconomic standings may deliberately choose to maintain their specific style of communication to indicate the differences between them.

Conclusion

Convergence and divergence in communication can send many different messages to people. It is difficult to determine how people will respond to how a people convergence or divergences from their speaking style. However, the main motivations for accommodation appear to be how such behavior benefits the communicator.

Social Networks and Language Habits

In this post, we will look at how relationships that people have can play a role in how they communicate with those around them. Understanding this can help people to comprehend differences in communication style.

In sociolinguistics, social networks can refer to the pattern of informal relationships that people have and experience on a consistent basis. There are two dimensions that can be used to describe a person’s social network. These two terms are density and plexity.

Density

The density of a social network refers to how well people in your network know each other. In other words, density is how well your friends know each other. We all have friends, we have friends who know each other, and we have friends who do not know each other.

If many of your friends know each other then the density is high. If your friends do not know each other the density is low. An example of a high-density network would be the typical family. Everybody knows each other. An example of a low-density network would be employees at a large company. In such a situation it would not be hard to find a friend of a friend that you do not know.

Plexity

Plexity is a  measure of the various types of interactions that you are involved in with other people. Plexity can be uniplex, which involves one type of interaction with a person or multiplex, which involves many types of interactions with a person.

An example of a uniplex interaction may be a worker with their boss. They only interact at work. A multiplex interaction would again be with members of one’s family. When dealing with family interactions could include school, work, recreation, shopping, etc. In all these examples it is the same people interacting in a multitude of settings.

Language Use in Social Networks

A person’s speech almost always reflects the network that they belong too. If the group is homogeneous we will almost always speak the way everyone else does assuming we want to be a part of the group. For example, a group of local construction workers will more than likely use similar language patterns due to the homogeneous nature of the group while a group of ESL bankers would not as they come from many different countries.

When a person belongs to more than one social network they will almost always unconsciously change the way they communicate based on the context. For example, anybody who has moved away from home communicates differently where they live than when they communicate with family and friends back home. This is true even when moving from one place to another in the same province or state in your country.

Conclusion

The language that people employ is affected by the dynamics of the social network. We naturally will adjust our communication to accommodate who we are talking too.

Types of Oral Language

Within communication and language teaching there are actually many different forms or types of oral language. Understanding this is beneficial if a teacher is trying to support students to develop their listening skills. This post will provide examples of several oral language forms.

Monologues 

A monologue is the use of language without any feedback verbally from others. There are two types of monologue which are planned and unplanned. Planned monologues include such examples as speeches, sermons, and verbatim reading.

When a monologue is planned there is little repetition of the ideas and themes of the subject. This makes it very difficult for ESL students to follow and comprehend the information. ESL students need to hear the content several times to better understand what is being discussed.

Unplanned monologues are more improvisational in nature. Examples can include classroom lectures and one-sided conversations. There is usually more repetition in unplanned monologues which is beneficial. However, the stop and start of unplanned monologues can be confusing at times as well.

Dialogues

A dialogue is the use of oral language involving two or more people. Within dialogues, there are two main sub-categories which are interpersonal and transactional. Interpersonal dialogues encourage the development of personal relationships. Such dialogues that involve asking people how are they or talking over dinner may fall in this category.

Transactional dialogue is dialogue for sharing factual information. An example might be  if someone you do not know asks you “where is the bathroom.” Such a question is not for developing relationships but rather for seeking information.

Both interpersonal and transactional dialogues can be either familiar or unfamiliar. Familiarity has to do with how well the people speaking know each other. The more familiar the people talking are the more assumptions and hidden meanings they bring to the discussion. For example, people who work at the same company in the same department use all types of acronyms to communicate with each other that outsiders do not understand.

When two people are unfamiliar with each other, effort must be made to provide information explicitly to avoid confusion. This carries over when a native speaker speaks in a familiar manner to ESL students. The style of communication is inappropriate because of the lack of familiarity of the ESL students with the language.

Conclusion

The boundary between monologue and dialogue is much clear than the boundaries between the other categories mentioned such as planned/unplanned, interpersonal/transactional, and familiar/unfamiliar. In general, the ideas presented here represent a continuum and not either or propositions.

Student and Teacher Talk in the ESL Classroom

Student and Teacher talk refers to the variety of ways in which a language teacher communicates with their students in the classroom. Generally, teacher talk can be divided into indirect and direct influences that shape the interaction of the students with the teacher and each other. Student talk is more complex to explain but has some common traits. This post will explain the two types of influence that are under teacher talk as well as common characteristics of student talk.

Indirect Influences

Indirect influences is teacher talk that is focused on feelings, asking questions and using student ideas. The focus on feelings is accepting and acknowledging how students feel. This can also involve praising the students for their work by explaining what they have done well.

Other forms of indirect influences include using student ideas. The ideas can be summarized by the teacher or they can be repeated verbatim. Either way, allows the students to contribute to the class discussion.

Lastly, another indirect influence is asking questions. This is a common way to stimulate discussion. The questions asked must be ones in which the teacher actually expects an answer.

Generally, indirect influences are often soft and passive in nature. This is in direct contrast to direct influences

Direct Influences 

Direct influences are more proactive and sometimes aggressive in nature.  Examples include giving directions and or information. In each case, the teacher is clearly in control and trying to lead the class.

Other types of direct influences include criticism. Criticism can be of student behavior or of the response of a student. This is clearly sending a message to the student and perhaps the class about what are acceptable actions in discussions.

Student Talk

When students talk it is usually to give a specific or open-ended response. A specific response is one in which there is only one answer. An open-ended response can have a multitude of answers.

Students can also respond with silence. This can happen as a result of the inability to express oneself or not understanding the question. Confusion happens when students are all speaking at the same time.

Students may also respond using their native language. This is normally avoided in TESOL but there are times where native language responses are needed for clarification.

Conclusion

Communication in the classroom can show itself in many different ways. The insights provided here give examples of the various forms of communication that can happen in a language classroom.

Reflective Thinking in Small Groups

Working in groups requires making decisions together. For many people, this is a frustrating experience. However, there are strategies available that can help guide a group through the decision-making experience.

One method that may help small groups to make decisions is the reflective-thinking approach. This approach was developed by John Dewey and has been in use almost 100 years.

This post will explain the reflective-thinking approach. This approach has five steps…

  1. Define the problem
  2. Analyze the problem
  3. Develop criteria for solving the problem
  4. Develop potential solutions
  5. Select the most appropriate solution

Define the Problem

A group needs to know what problem they are trying to solve. One of the best ways to define the problem is to phrase it as a question. For example, if the problem is students struggling in English class, one way to word this problem as a question would be…

What should we do to help students with their English class?

There are several traits of a clearly worded problem. One, it is clear and specific. In the example above it is clear the English performance is a problem. Two, the phrasing of the question should be open-ended which allows for many different answers. Three, the question should only ask one question. This increase the answer-ability of the question and allows the group to focus.

Analyze the Problem

Before developing solutions, it is imperative that the group analyze the problem. This involves assessing the severity of the problem and the causes of the problem. Determining severity helps to understand who is affected and how any while determining causes can naturally lead to solutions in the next step of this process.

Returning to our English example, it may be that only 5th graders are struggling with English and that most of the 5th graders are ESL students. Therefore, the severity of the problem is 5th graders and the cause is their non-native background. This step also contributes to a deeper focus on the problem.

Develop Criteria for Solving the Problem

Before actually solving the problem, it is important to determine what characteristics and traits the solution should have. This is called criteria development. A criteria is a standard for what the solution to the problem should achieve.

Returning to the English problem, below is a criteria for solving this problem

  1. The solution should be minimal
  2. The solution  should be implemented immediately
  3. The solution should specifically target improving reading comprehension
  4. The solution should involve minimal training of the 5th grade teachers

The criteria helps with focus. It prevents people from generating ideas that are way off track.

Develop Solutions

In this step, the group develops as many solutions as widely and creative as possible. The ideas are recorded. Even though a criteria has been developed, it is not consulted at this stage but is used in the final step.

Select the Solution

All solutions that were developed are now judged by the criteria that was developed previously. Each idea is compared to the group criteria. Each solution that meets the criteria is set aside to discuss further.

Once all acceptable solutions have been chosen it is now necessary to pick the one most acceptable to the group. The first desire should be for consensus, which means everyone accepts the solution. If consensus is not possible, the next option is to vote. Voting benefits the majority while often irritating the minority. This is one reason why voting is the second option.

Conclusion

The reflective-thinking method is an excellent way to efficiently solve problems in a group. This method provides a group with an ability to focus and not get lost when making decisions.

Leadership in Small Groups

In education, it is common to have students work in groups. Natural, there are many problems in having students work together. One common problem is determining the direction of the group through deciding on leadership. This post will share insights into group leadership by sharing the following

  • Types of leadership
  • Functions of leadership

Types of Leadership

Leadership is the ability to influence those around you to achieve goals. In groups, leadership can take on one of many forms, such as,

  • Implied
  • Emergent
  • Designated

Implied leadership is the selection of a leader due to their higher status or rank. For example, if several freshmen are working with a junior on a project, often they will defer to the junior because he or she is older and or of a higher academic rank.

Emergent leadership is the rise of a leader due to their assertiveness. This can be good or bad. It is good if the group is off track or stalemated. It is bad if the leader takes power through the force of their personality for their own benefit.

Designated leadership is leadership through election or appointment. In this example, the leader is formally chosen before the group begins working or at the beginning of the life of the group.

Teachers should make sure they have some sort of plan for setting up leadership in groups. The way this happens is context depended but not being aware of how leadership is developed in a group can lead to problems within groups.

Functions of Leadership

Leaders have several major rolls and these include

  • Procedural responsibilities
  • Task responsibilities
  • Maintenance responsibilities

Procedural responsibilities involve the various housekeeping needs of groups. This includes agenda for meetings, meetings time and location, and starting and ending meetings on time.

Task responsibilities center around getting things done. This includes assigning a task to others, helping the group to stay focused, and or solving group problems.

Maintenance responsibilities are about the interpersonal relationships within a group. Some examples of how a leader deals with this includes providing support for members and helping members to get along with each other.

It is not necessary for one leader to do all of these functions themselves. Rather, it is the leader’s job to make sure that all of these responsibilities are taken care of within the group or team. If any of these responsibilities are ignored serious problems can arise as the group tries to work.

Conclusion

Groups normally need some form of leadership, otherwise, there will be no direction. There are many ways that a leader can arise in a group. Regardless of how a leader is selected, they have certain responsibilities that they need to assure are completed by them or some other member.

Teachers must keep in mind how leaders will be selected for groups in their classes. In addition, they must be sure to explain to the leader the responsibilities they have as this will lessen confusion within the group.

Reasoning

Reasoning is the process of developing conclusion through the examination of evidence. This post will explain several forms of reasoning as listed below.

  • Inductive
  • Deductive
  • Causal
  • Analogical
  • Abductive

Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning involves looking at several specific instances or facts and developing a conclusion. Below is an example

  • Fact 1: Dad died from smoking
  • Fact 2: Grandpa died from smoking
  • Fact 3: Uncle is dying from smoking
  • Conclusion: Smoking kills

In the example above, there are several instances of the effect of smoking on people. From these examples, the conclusion reach was smoking is deadly.

The danger of this form of reasoning is jumping to conclusions based on a small sample size. Just because three people died or are dying of smoking does not mean that smoking is deadly in general. This is not enough evidence to support this conclusion

Deductive Reasoning 

Deductive reasoning involves the development of a general principle testing a specific example of the principle and moving to a  conclusion. Below is an example.

  • Principle: Everybody is mortal
  • Specific example: Thomas is a man
  • Conclusion: Therefore, Thomas is mortal

This method of reasoning is highly effective in persuasion. However, the principle must be sound in order to impact the audience.

Causal Reasoning

Causal reasoning attempts to establish a relationship between a cause and effect. An example would be as follows.

You slip and break your leg. After breaking your leg you notice that there was a banana on the ground. You therefore reason that you slipped on the banana and broke your leg

The danger of causal reasoning is it is sometimes difficult to prove cause and effect conclusively. In addition, complex events cannot often be explained by a single cause.

Analogical Reasoning

Analogical reasoning involves the comparison of two similar cases making the argument that what is true for the first is true for the second. Below is an example.

  • Fact 1: Thomas is good at playing the trumpet
  • Fact 2: Thomas is good at playing the French Horn
  • Conclusion: Thomas is probably good at playing the trombone

The example above assumes that Thomas can play the trombone because he can play other brass instruments well. It is critical that the comparison made is truly parallel in order to persuade an audience.

Abductive Reasoning

Abductive reasoning involves looking at incomplete information and trying to make sense of this through reasonable guesses. Perhaps the most common experiences people have with abductive reasoning is going to the hospital or mechanic. In both situations, the doctor and mechanic listen to the symptoms and try to make a diagnosis as to exactly what the problem is.

Of course, the doctor and mechanic can be completely wrong which leads to other problems. However, unlike the other forms of reasoning, abductive reasoning is useful for filling in gaps in information that is unavailable.

Conclusion

Reasoning comes in many forms. The examples provided here provide people with different ways these forms of reasoning can be used.

Diglossia

Diglossia literally means “two tongues.” This definition gives the impression that diglossia and bilingualism are the same thing. However, diglossia is a distinct form of bilingualism in that the use of the two languages are determined by the function.

A diglossia consists of a high and low language. The high language is used for specific purposes such as business transactions, ceremonies, and religious rites. The low language is used for everyday conversation. You would never hear a person use the low language for normal conversation.

The context in which the high and low languages are used are called domains. There are many different domains such as family, work, school, church, etc. Each of these domains calls for either the high or low language. For example, the high language may be used when speaking of politics while the low language may be used for speaking about sports.

There are several examples of diglossia in the world. In America, African Americans often have their own distinct form of English which functions as a low language. Regular or standard English would be the high language in this situation. At home, African American English is spoken and in public, a switch to standard English is often made.

There is often an interaction between diglossia and bilingualism in language. In general, there are four ways in which diglossia and bilingualism can interact in a community.

  1. The community has diglossia and bilingualism
  2. The community has diglossia but not bilingualism
  3. The community has bilingualism but diglossia
  4. The community does not have diglossia or bilingualism

Below are examples of each

Diglossia and Bilingualism 

An example of this is an African American community where the people can speak standard English (high language), African American English (low language) while also being fluent in another language like Spanish (second language).

Diglossia but not Bilingualism

Same as above, the African American community knows standard English as well as African American English but the community does not speak Spanish or any other language.

Bilingualism but no Diglossia

The African American community speaks standard English and also speaks another language, such as Spanish, but does not use African American English.

Neither Diglossia or Bilingualism

The African American community only speaks standard English and does not speak African American English or any other language such as Spanish.

Conclusion

Communities vary in their perception of their high and low languages. Some look down on the low language while using it while others are proud of the low language while feeling forced to learn the high. The points are that with diglossia, the use of a second language is connected to a particular social setting.

Understanding Fallacies

Fallacies are errors in reasoning. They happen in speech and in writing. The danger of fallacies is that they can deceive people into accept false ideas and claims that can lead to serious consequences. In this post, we will look at several types of fallacies with examples.

Hasty Generalization

A hasty generalization happens when an individual makes a broad claim in a few instances. Below is an example

Throughout American history, military leaders who become president are terrible leaders. Consider the examples of Ulysses Grant and James Buchanan..

The problem with the reasoning in this fallacy is that it is not always true. There are many examples of military leaders who became excellent presidents. Examples include George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Dwight Eisenhower.

False Cause 

A false cause fallacy is claiming that A caused B when there is no real connection. Below is an example.

When ice cream sales increase there is also an increase in homicide rates. Therefore, if we want to reduce homicides we need to reduce ice cream sales.

On the surface, such an argument makes sense. However, correlation is not causation. There are other factors that lead to homicide in addition to ice cream sales.

Invalid Analogy

An analogy is the comparison of two concepts or things for the purpose of explanation. An invalid analogy is the inappropriate comparison of two concepts. Below is an example.

  In America, the school-year is from September to May. Since this schedule works in America it will surely work in Thailand

This analogy is comparing the American and Thailand with the idea that they can both have the same academic calendar. The problem is that both countries are radically different in terms of facilities. Most American classrooms are temperature control while many in Thailand are not. Since there is a lack of air conditioning in many Thai schools the calendar has been adjusted so that teaching does not take place during the hottest time of the year.

Bandwagon

A bandwagon fallacy is based on the premise that since so many people are doing A it serves as evidence that everyone should do it. Children are often victims of this fallacy when they try to justify why they did something. Below is an example.

 The action of the administration is appropriate. The reason being because is that 70% of the faculty support the decision of coed dormitories.

The fact that the majority support something is not the only indication of whether it is right or wrong. Other factors such as religious beliefs and even culture may need to be considered as well.

Conclusion

Fallacies can serve as a major tool for confusing people on different topics and ideas. The examples in this post only serve to show some of the few ways that fallacies manifest themselves. It is important for a consumer of information to be able to identify fallacies when they are apparent.

Finding a Topic and Purpose in Writing/Speaking

Although not exactly the same writing and public speaking having many things in common. This is especially true during preparation for a paper or presentation. The goal here is not really to compare and contrast writing and public speaking but to point out tools that can be used in both disciplines. In this post, we will cover the following

  • Choosing a topic of a paper/presentation
  • Determining the purpose paper/presentation

Choosing a Topic

The topic is whatever you are going to write or speak about. In reality, there are two types of topics

  1. Topics you already know a lot about
  2. Topics you know very little about

Which of these two choices you pick depends on the audience of your paper/presentation.

Brainstorming is one way of picking a topic. This involves several different techniques such as make webs, clusters or even performing an internet search.The way you pick a topic is not as important as finding something to develop for your audience.

Determining the Purpose

There are two levels at which the purpose is determined, the general and the specific purpose. The general purpose of a paper/presentation is the overall goal of the paper/presentation. There are many different purposes but two common ones are…

  • to inform
  • to persuade

Informing involves teaching the audience about something. For example, you might write a paper on cellphone apps. In this approach, you are teaching the audience about apps.

To persuade means to try and convince people or change their opinion about something. For example, you might have the purpose of showing readers what the best apps for English are. this involves not only presenting information but trying to convince people about what the best English apps are.

Once a general purpose has been determined it is important to develop a specific purpose. The specific purpose is a sentence in which you state what you are going to do in the paper or presentation. In writing, this is also often called the thesis statement.

For example, I might write or develop a speech in which my general purpose is to inform. My specific purpose is to inform the audience about different types of English apps. As you can see, the specific purpose includes the general purpose of to inform or to persuade. Below is a break down of the example in this paragraph

Topic: English Apps

General purpose: To inform

Specific purpose: To inform the audience about different English Apps

There are some tips to developing purpose statements. One, they are never expressed as a question because a purpose statement answers questions. Two, avoid figurative or technical language because they need to be as clear as possible. Lastly, a purpose statement should only be one sentence and deal with one idea as this helps with clarity.

Conclusion. 

The topic and purpose of a paper/presentation are critical for you to know and develop in advance. This sets the stage for clear communication with whoever you are engaging with your content.

Speech Communication Process

Communicating is at times an intimidating experience for people. This is especially true if they are asked to speak in public. Public Speaking or communicating, in general, is comprised of several elements. These elements include

  • Speaker
  • Message
  • Channel
  • Listener
  • Feedback
  • Interference
  • Situation

Speaker & Message

The speaker is the one who is attempting to share a message. A successful speaker needs to be convincing as well as possess authoritative knowledge of their topic. In addition, a speaker should have some enthusiasm for what they are sharing. We have been in the presence of a boring expert. A person who had knowledge but lack the energy to deliver the content in a way that was engaging.

The speaker also possesses the message or what they are sharing. The success of the message depends on the organizational skills of the speaker. The main points need to be clear and understandable. Ideas and supporting details need to be crafted in a way for maximum impact. Often, a message will make a lot of sense to the speaker but not to anyone else.

Channel & Listener

The channel is the medium through which the message comes. Examples of channels include radio, phone, internet, tv, and verbal. As such, public speaking is more than just in person but through other channels as well.

The listener is the person who is receiving the message through a channel. To communicate effectively, a speaker must be able to empathize, or see the world from the viewpoint of the audience. Everyone has a different perspective and the channel of being able to relate to the audience is a major burden for a speaker.

Feedback & Interference

Feedback is the messages the listener sends to the speaker. This most often happens in face-to-face settings and involves body language. Members in the audience might lean forward showing interesting or fold their arms to show they disagree. The speaker needs to monitor this and make necessary adjustments in their presentation in order to fully engage or convince the audience depending on their goal.

Interference is anything that slows down the effectiveness of communication when speaking. For example, there might be construction happening outside that makes it hard to hear. Or, someone is feeling sick while you are presenting. The first example is external interference which means comes from outside the audience while the second is an example of internal interference as it is coming from within the audience.

Situation

The situation is the context in which the communication takes place. How we speak at a party is different from a funeral and vice versa. A speaker must keep in mind the situation when preparing. The appropriateness of jokes and criticism depends on the situation that one is required to share.

Conclusion

Communication is much more complicated than many people thought. The seven components mentioned here are among the most common and agreed upon by scholars. When speaking people need to aware of the impact of the message as well as the way it is communicated in various context.