Language Analysis #1

Michael Gery’s opinion piece about child solo sailors and parental neglect provides good exam practice.

Revise your own response, and observe the improvements that can be made in the examples found below.


All italicized text is the work of students. Have a think about how we might improve the following sample student responses:

Sample 1. Compare these two topic sentences from different essays. Both use the same quote.

Mr.Gray also states ‘life endangering activities’ although the life endangering was not really necessary it was necessary for him to get his point across to readers that it’s not just a life risking activity but it’s a life risking activity that parents let their kids do at such a young age.

Mr Grey’s claim that the youth are involved in ‘life endangering activities’ may appear exaggerated, but he uses this emotive language to convey his point that solo underage sailing is a risk that parents negligently allow their children to embark upon.

Sample 2. Compare these two topic sentences from the same essay

Throughout this text Mr.Gray speaks with emotional language to attempt to persuade his readers.


Mr.Gray denigrates his opponents to show readers that there is no positive effect on letting kids rides solo around the world.

The first is very general. The same could be said for any opinion piece! The second specifies what the writer is doing (denigrates his opponents), and why  he is doing it (to show readers…).

The second topic sentence invites the writer to include a selective quote in the next sentence. ‘By calling them ‘irresponsible and selfish’ he refutes the cited benefits to children by arguing that parents are really acting out of selfish parental pride; the children risk their lives and the parents get the glory. This essay can them explore the exaggerated claim that there are no positive effects of solo child sailing.

Sample 3. The image

Remember, it doesn’t hurt to place your visual analysis more prominently – towards the top of your essay rather adding it as an afterthought just before the conclusion. After all, it is a large image, placed at the start of the piece, so it has a role in setting the tone of the piece.

Mr.Gray also adds a photo to give readers a little insight on how sailing around the world solo looks. He puts a picture of a little boat where it’s driving at an angle due to the harsh wind conditions. The picture also shows a cloudy day indicating severe rain conditions which makes it more physically unsafe for adults let alone children. In doing this it captures reader’s attention because some have little information on how riding a boat solo around the world is but now they do as the picture tells everything there is to know. By showing all the physical dangers that a boat can undergo in one photo simply gives readers an insight on how dangerous it can be, they then might begin to question the ‘unfit’ kid’s parents of their morals.

The picture tells everything there is to know. Keep in mind that the picture has been deliberately constructed to convey the writer’s POV. To claim that is tells everything is not so accurate. Maybe it tells everything that the writer wants readers to know!

– Have a look at the published sample responses above to make your own observations and comparisons.

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