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Identifying texts with particular conventions

The ideas, discussions points and activities here can help you when choosing a text, exploring alternative text types, and looking at texts that play with conventions.         

Recognising multiple conventions

Persuasive and informative texts often do a number of other things as well as informing and persuading, which can make them difficult to identify. For example, a text focusing on the plight of tigers in India, featuring information on how many are under threat and where they can be found, could be labelled as objective information text. Because the text focuses on these facts and this subject, it could be viewed as a persuasive or 'loaded' text.

Choosing a text

It is important that the texts you select are interesting and compelling. You can still focus on the features or conventions of building an argument, even if the text does other things or does not contain all the possible ways of building an argument.

Exploring alternative types of text

Help pupils move beyond simplistic notions of genre by introducing them to different types of texts. For example, a newspaper or magazine can contain almost the full range of text types, forms and genres, including:

  • personal letters
  • text with images about products, which use highly descriptive language and facts or information
  • feature articles on topics
  • personal accounts, interviews, profiles
  • travel writing, which might be personal, informative, persuasive and descriptive
  • short stories or narratives, true life or otherwise
  • lists, diagrams, tables, grids, graphs, pull quotes and captions.                 

Example activity

Ask pupils to carry out an analysis of all the text types and purposes in a magazine. This can help them to recognise that even the introductory note from a magazine’s editor, for example, does a particular job, and has particular features.

Playing with conventions

Work with texts that deliberately play with conventions and expectations.

Journalists’ narrative devices

Look at the way journalists play with conventions and the narrative devices they use such as:

  • withholding information
  • powerful imagery
  • building a narrative structure or story about an individual in order to introduce or explore ideas or problems (for example in ‘From our own correspondent’).              

Using deliberate exaggeration

Some newspaper columnists use 'mock-epic' language and exaggeration to talk about their family life for comic effect. The writer uses this approach to invite the reader to a world of exaggerated fiction, which also contains truths we can all recognise. For example, car reviews which tell us more about the writer’s life than the car. These texts may be demanding and challenging, ironic and layered in meaning, but when selected carefully can reap rewards.