Analysing ESL Persuasive Essay Writing Using Toulmin’s Model of Argument

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Wan Hurani Osman, Junaidah Januin


In Malaysian universities, writing in English is taught in several settings: writing for general purposes, writing for academic purposes and writing for specific purposes. Writing in these settings allows learners to learn to write in different genres, such as research, reports, and persuasive writing genres. One of the standard genres is persuasive because it is used to convince readers of what is researched or reported. To be competent in persuading or arguing, using the appropriate rhetorical and linguistic structure is crucial. The appropriate rhetorical and linguistic elements will help to achieve the writers' objective and intention. This paper will examine rhetorical and linguistic structures used by the ESL writers in producing a persuasive essay. Fifteen persuasive essays written by tertiary learners were analysed in this study. The researchers employed Stephen Toulmin's Model of argument (1969) as the tool of analysis in identifying the rhetorical and linguistic structures realised in the students' essays. The analysis outcome indicates that the 15 ESL writers under investigation comply with Toulmin's model except for the rebuttal stage, which was not visible in the essays. The findings will explain the common and uncommon rhetorical and linguistic elements used based on the model that Toulmin has developed. The implications from the findings are twofold; first, academic writing teachers can focus on the necessary elements to produce competent persuasive ESL writers, and secondly, textbook developers may produce their books based on the findings drawn from this study.

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