Lesson video

In progress...


Hello and welcome to today's English lesson.

I'm miss Gayle.

And today we're going to be looking at ways of writing an effective counterargument.

You'll need a pen and paper.

So make sure you take a moment to clear any distractions away, have everything you need to hand, and then write down the title rhetoric and the clarity of expression counterarguments.

Now, let's start by reminding ourselves what rhetoric is and when we might use it.

Rhetoric means the art of effective persuasive speaking or writing.

It's used to sway attitudes, alter viewpoints, and open minds.

You might remember that often it's broken down into these three appeals, ethos, logos, and pathos.

Can you remember what these three appeals target? Well done if he can.

Ethos is the appeal to ethics.

That's where you convince the audience of your or the author's credibility or character.

Makes it worth listening to what you have to say.

Logs means using logic and reason to convince the audience that's the appeal to logic.

So that's where we might use our facts in statistics and tempting as it may be.

We should avoid making these up and try to as much as we can use what you know, to get your points across, through research and planning.

And then pathos is where we're appealing to the emotions of our readers.

We persuade our audience by targeting their emotions or feelings.

Today, we're going to focus on logos, mostly, and the appeal to logic and how we can consider how we might refine our arguments with a focus on how to use the grammar of the counterargument effectively.

So what is a counterargument? I'd like you to take a minute to think about that question.

What is a counterargument and why are they important? You might like to think of it as encouraging your reader to weigh up the evidence.

You can see the scales on your screen.

You thinking about the balance of your judgement.

It's your job to evaluate the facts and help your reader to come to the conclusion that you want them to come to.

On one side of the scales, you have the argument, and on the other side of the scales, you have the counterargument.

Our aim when we're writing to persuade is not to have the scales balanced, but to tip them in favour of our own arguments.

It can be helpful to acknowledge and then discredit or dismiss or reject that counterargument to help us to do that.

So a counterargument is a set of reasons put forward to oppose an idea or theory developed in another argument.

And when we write to show our own personal attitude or opinion, often we have our own argument and the counterargument is what someone else might think.

So why should consider it in our writing? Wouldn't it confuse the reader if we started bringing in all the interpretations or other viewpoints into our own writing? No.

We should consider the counterargument for a number of reasons.

It's useful to consider it because it, firstly demonstrates that as a writer, your credibility in judgement has already taken into account other people's opinions.

You've shown an awareness of evidence and other people's opinions, and you've avoided making ignorant, sweeping statements that make you sound like you don't listen or are not aware of all the ideas in the world.

This makes your arguments or viewpoints seem more reasonable and more considered.

And it's more likely, therefore that your reader is going to believe in you and you'll have the authority to speak to them.

Acknowledging the counterargument helps us to reject or refute opposing views at the same time as challenging any doubts that your reader might have about how compelling your argument is.

So actually by acknowledging the opposite opinion, and by criticising the opposite opinion, we strengthen our own position.

I'd like to pause the video and answer this question.

Why should you acknowledge the counterargument? Hopefully you've written something like this and well done if you have.

A counterargument is a set of reasons put forward to oppose an idea or theory.

When writing persuasively, you could acknowledge the counterargument to demonstrate your credibility and judgement , to show awareness of evidence, and to allow you to reject or refute opposing views, to challenge what you're reading might be thinking.

Now, a counterargument is not an opportunity to look indecisive or confused about your own viewpoint.

And that's a really important thing for you to think about.

One of the most common errors people make when they're taking a counterargument into account is that you get so lost in your opponent's argument, you forget your own original opinion and end up reaching the opposite conclusion to the one that you started out with.

And you need to avoid this at all costs.

If you're writing to show viewpoint, the last thing you want to do is convince yourself of the opposite viewpoint.

So it's really important that you remain firmly in control of your argument of your point of view.

If you agree with your opponent, to some extent that's okay, but you should always start out with that opinion, even if it's more nuanced and more subtle, right from the outset.

Don't try and convince yourself of it halfway through, because you've just realised that you've thought of a really good idea.

This is November example of how important it is to really carefully think and plan before you start to write.

Here's some phrases that might help you to acknowledge and reject opposing viewpoints as a part of writing the counterargument.

As you can see from the examples of new screen, a counterargument is a polite, but still assertive way of ensuring that your argument remains the most convincing.

So you might use phrases like I understand that, but I'm not ignorant to the fact that, but while many people suggest that it's clear to me that in spite of arguments to the country, the evidence suggests that, or I acknowledge that sometimes, but this is just, that is in my view, misguided because.

And obviously you'd fill in those gaps with whatever argument you are making.

So let's practise using those now.

I want you to think of a counterargument against the statement I'm about to show you.

There'll be a sentence STEM on your screen, practising some of these phrases.

Here's the first one.

Because of the warm weather and long holidays, summer is the best season of the year.

Have a go at writing down your own counterargument there.

Here's my example.

I understand that summer is renowned for its weather, but how often does the sun actually shine? So here we're taking the opposing viewpoint and we're deconstructing it so that our own argument is stronger.

I have a go at this one.

Cats make far better pets than dogs.

They are self-sufficient independent and affectionate.

And I want you to use that sense of STEM on your screen.

I'm not ignorant to the fact that, Well though, here's my example.

I'm not ignorant to the fact that cats are independent, but dogs make much better companions.

And again, we're acknowledging the opposing viewpoint, but we're rejecting it.

Have another game.

Young people should not be given the right to vote at 16.

And here's my example.

While many people suggest that young people are too irresponsible to vote, it is clear to me that they deserve a voice in their future.

And finally, if they understand how to access it safely, teenagers should be allowed to use social media.

Again, have a go at using that sentence STEM on your screen to politely reject that statement.

Here's my example, in spite of arguments to the contrary, our obsession with a social media timeline is a waste of time, energy and mobile data.

So these were really quick fire rejections of some statements there, and we've practised our ability to think and respond to our opponents arguments.

But how do we reject a counterargument effectively? And how do we extend some of those ideas in our writing? I'm going to walk you through how you might construct a paragraph within a longer essay, that might address and respond to any opposing views.

And there's a few steps that I would suggest that take in order to do that.

First, we need to acknowledge the existence of the counterargument.

It's best to do this at the beginning of the paragraph.

Then we subtly or sneakily suggest that the counterargument is wrong by giving our own evidence or our own reasons.

Then we offer more evidence to suggest that the counterargument is weak.

And then alongside this evidence, we should use rhetorical techniques to convince the reader that our viewpoint is still the best one.

And then at the end of the paragraph, we then restate our viewpoint to make sure that everybody including ourselves are crystal clear about what we think and what we are trying to argue.


So let's practise developing the acknowledgement of a counterargument now.

We're going to use the topic that's on your screen because of the warm weather and long holidays, summer is the best season of the year.

So we need to imagine that we hate summer and it's unpredictable weather.

Perhaps we're fans of winter festivities, and we've Christmas instead.

Whatever you actually think for this task, put that to one side, because we're all going to be arguing the same stance on this point.

So we start off by acknowledging the counterargument and acknowledging that there's another point of view.

So we might say, I'm not ignorant to the fact that summer is an eagerly anticipated season of sunshine, bathed afternoons, long, balmy evenings, and fun-packed summer holidays.

Then we certainly suggest that that argument is wrong.

So we might say something like this.

However, in reality, the dream of uninterrupted furnished sunshine is more often than not drenched by an icy deluge.

The humid summer nights is sticky and uncomfortable and the school holidays are tedious and unfulfilling.

Summer is a disappointment.

So that we've suggested that that opposite viewpoint is wrong, now we need to offer evidence just to reinforce our own viewpoint.

Each summer crowds in there, thousands flocked to the beach, to shiver in embracing winds and cold drizzle.

Each summer research suggests that the average school child regresses academically by between two to three months in reading.

Each summer, I long for the nights to start closing in.

So then I'm taking a variety of different pieces of evidence using some rhetorical techniques like repetition there to emphasise them and really, really strengthened my overall viewpoint.

Then we're going start to use rhetoric to convince our readers so here, I've just got a simple rhetorical question.

Look back to the summers of your past.

How many times did the expectation live up to reality? And then to finish the paragraph, we restate our viewpoint.

We need to reevaluate our relationship with summer.

Yes, the season has its charms, but it's time to manage our expectations on this classic British delusion.

So here you can see each of those elements combined into a full counter-argument paragraph.

We start with that acknowledgment.

Then we reject it.

We give evidence as to why we've rejected it.

We use rhetorical techniques and then we finished by restating our viewpoint.

So I'd like you to have a go at writing your own counterarguments.

I'm going to give you a choice and you can choose a counter-argument from those on your screen to develop a response to.

Remember to follow those five steps.

And you can always look back at the model if you need some support with what kind of things to write.

Try and use those sentence structures that we've practised and have a go at really using rhetoric to convince your reader.

Well done.

And thank you for your focus.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your learning today.

Before you get onto that, remember to complete the quiz at the end of this lesson.