Rhetorical Features in Written Compositions: Native and Non-Native English Speakers

Topic: Assignments
Words: 2308 Pages: 8


Effective communication relies on the type of media, language structure, and various components of effective communication. The aspect of media and language creates the notion of the use of rhetoric appeal to capture the target audience’s attention. The concept refers to elements that intertwine to create permissiveness and appeal to the target audience. The factors that make up the rhetorical features of a text include logos, pathos, and ethos. The topic of study for this research paper revolves around language and media. Undergraduate students tend to struggle with language and media, especially at beginner levels whose first language is different from English. The paper reflects on the differences between native and non-native English speakers in using rhetoric appeals in written compositions.


The type and style of language used in media and text vary from one medium to another. One key feature that constantly changes depending on the language used within a specific media is the rhetorical features. The concept refers to elements that intertwine to create permissiveness and appeal to the target audience (Khadka, 2018). The factors that make up the rhetorical features of a text include logos, pathos, and ethos. The topic of study for this research paper revolves around language and media. Undergraduate students tend to struggle with language and media, especially at beginner levels whose first language is different from English (Khadka, 2018). Several reasons explain why learners whose first language is not English struggle with language systems in written media. For example, amongst Arabic learners, there is clear different orthography evidenced in applying the rhetorical features of media.

Arguably, non-native English speakers struggle with language and ornamental features used in media, including lexis, language mechanics, grammar, and organization structure. The first language has enormous implications on second language development and acquisition patterns (Khadka, 2018). The paper compares EAP argumentative essays amongst native English speakers and non-native English speakers. The report pays specific attention to the use of rhetorical appeals in their structure to establish the factors that influence language development in media.

Literature Review

First language writing skills play a primary role in the development of a second language. Wiring is identified as one of the four skills that influence language development. The other three skills are speaking, listening, and reading (Ting, 2018). The primary language development skills are further into groups; receptive and productive language skills (Khadka, 2018). Sensory skills are listening and reading, while productive skills are speaking and writing. Writing is further divided into smaller groups, with argumentative writing being one of the central sub-groups of writing. Argumentative writing is a genre of writing that is used in many high-stakes tests (Poole, 2016). The study analyzes language styles used in argumentative writing and the overall structure of argumentative writing. While rhetorical appeals are fundamental elements in understanding language and media, especially in writing, argumentative structures are used as indicators and measures of quality in argumentative essays.

Contrastive rhetoric is one of the essential types of rhetoric in written language. The language feature focuses on the impact of the first language on learners’ writing ability in the second language (Ting, 2018). A study to examine the discourse and impact of the Chinese language on learning English through the perspective of contrastive rhetoric portrayed a huge interrelationship between the first language and the acquisition of rhetoric features of the second language (Khadka, 2018). The impact, therefore, shows that the first language determines the development of learners’ skills in making appropriate use of rhetoric features in writing. Studies have established a critical pedagogical implication of the first language on second language acquisition, which gives the significance of what teachers must consider when teaching composition writing (Poole, 2016). Media and language studies identify contrastive rhetoric comparative features as the pedagogical methods for teaching media and language. Comparative studies to establish the impact of contrastive rhetoric comparison found that the rhetoric feature played a fundamental role in creating awareness and promoting an overall understanding of language and media.

When used as a comparative tool between authentic British and Iranian writing styles, contrastive rhetoric establishes vast differences between first and second language learner writing styles. Studies that have used genre analysis techniques to develop the differences between different media languages show apparent differences between rhetoric features in first and second-language learners (Khadka, 2018). Genre analysis finds differences in the style and structure of the language used to portray the three rhetoric features of written texts. Research studies to establish similarities and differences between Iranian non-native English speakers and British native English speakers demonstrated several differences between the styles of language used to develop language in respective Media (Poole, 2016). For example, amongst Iranian media, language style is portrayed as stress on rapport-building strategy.

The differences in the comparative study result from the structure of English used amongst non-native English speakers having varying characteristic traits compared to the type of English used amongst native English speakers (Khadka, 2018). The vast differences result from the impact of culture and style on the language and Media used to convey messages. From the study, it is conclusive that constructive rhetoric plays a primary role in understanding the impact of culture on student writing styles.

Another aspect of media and language affected by language culture is the rhetoric appeal. The concept of rhetoric appeal has its tools in the analysis done by great philosophers such as Aristotle. Although various scholars have researched and examined the idea of rhetoric appeal in media and language, there are limited numbers of studies in this field (Poole, 2016). However, available research studies insinuate the vast differences between the level of rhetoric appeal amongst native English speakers and non-native speakers (Meechaicharoen & Sumritsakul, 2018). A study by the English department at the University of Malaysia established that the three rhetoric appeals impact media and language differently (Poole, 2016). The researchers aimed to establish the most commonly used rhetoric appeal in written language and media. The researchers demonstrated that only one of the three rhetoric appeals is used in student writings (Ting, 2017). Pathos or emotional appeal is the widely used rhetoric appeal strategy. Students in the university used the strategy to appeal to the professors through their written compositions.

The second most used appeal was logos, which represents an appeal to logic. Ethos is rarely used as learners fail to establish the credibility of their written compositions. The study further confirmed that native English speakers were more likely to achieve the objective of using rhetoric features in essays compared to non-native English speakers (Meechaicharoen & Sumritsakul, 2018). From the study, it is arguable that native English speakers grow within the culture of incorporating rhetoric appeals into their written communications (Poole, 2016). There is a clear connection between the use of rhetoric features, media, and language amongst learners. Effective use of the features depends on the learner’s language culture. English native speakers have a higher probability of making effective use of rhetoric features than non-native (Meechaicharoen & Sumritsakul, 2018). English speakers. Second language learning is fundamentally dependent on the culture of the first language. This factor explains why non-native English speakers struggle to incorporate elements of rhetoric appeals into their written compositions.


The study aimed to establish differences between essays written by native English speakers (L1) and non-native speakers (L2). The study was based on a comparative analysis of the L1 and L2 reports. In collecting data, the study made use of quantitative research methodologies to collect and analyze data. The research findings highlighted the differences in the use of rhetoric appeal and argument structure between L1 and L2 essays. The design of the study was primarily founded on the use of quantitative methodologies. Quantitative methodologies are arguably effective and appropriate for addressing disclosure analysis. Previous scholarly research that adopted a similar research design relied on quantitative research methodologies because of the practical nature of the methods in collecting and analyzing quantitative data. The primary focus of the study was to collect and evaluate data from student essays. The study utilized the Toulmin Model to count the number of times a rhetorical appeal appears within a written student composition (Ting, 2017). The framework has been used in a host of previous studies to establish the frequency of variables within a specific study sample.

The research targeted students from universities and colleges. To comply with ethical research considerations, the researcher had to obtain legal permission from respective institutions. Therefore, the facilities were aware of the research being done on student compositions submitted to the facilities. Since the study is a comparative paper between L1 and L2 learner essays, L1 essay samples were collected from the University of Texas. In contrast, L2 sample essays were collected from actual classwork papers from the same facility. The sample size was manageable to avoid workload-related stresses. The smaller size of sample size equally ensured that the analysis of the samples was intensive. A total of 48 essays were collected and analyzed for both L1 and L2 samples. The study primarily relied on purposive sampling techniques. The techniques are used in quantitative studies because of their effectiveness in identifying the ideal study sample. Purposive sampling was adequate for the study because it determines the target sample based on the chosen characteristics.


The study targeted establishing rhetorical appeals used amongst L1 and L2 learners. The study targeted the three rhetorical appeals (logos, ethos, and pathos) identified by Aristotle. The research targeted two basic types of data analysis; frequency of attractions counting and establishing the types of appeals used in different essays. To develop the appeals, the study fundamentally focuses on the framework model proposed by Ting (2018). A total of 48 essays were analyzed in the study with the ultimate aim of establishing the variance of the two variables. Analysis of the study was done using two rater scales that highlighted logos, ethos, ethos, and pathos in student-written essays. The analysis technique included counting the frequency of appearance for each appeal, and later, the results were moderated and tabulated into a table.

L2 students Used one appeal Used two appeals Used all the appeals Total
Student essay sample 20 3 2 25
Appeals present in the sample 19 9 2 40
L1 learners
Student essay sample 14 6 4 34
Appeals present in the sample 17 11 2 30


A glimpse at the above table shows that L2 learner essays produced relatively lower tendencies to integrate rhetorical appeals than L1 learners. The second analysis focused on the type of appeal that students in their essays commonly use.

L1 Learners Number of appeals used Frequency %
Pathos 15 53
Logos 10 43
Ethos 5 3
Total 30 100
LE learners Number of appeals used Frequency %
Pathos 10 37
Logos 20 58
Ethos 4 5
Total 34 100

The Frequency of Rhetorical Appeals amongst L1 and L2 student essays.

The research data were classified into two groups; type of appeal and frequency of the number of appeals used within a single essay. L2 learners had a higher tendency to use the pathos appeal in their essays than the other appeals types. L1 learners used Logos more often than the different types of appeals. The findings agree with the results from Meechaicharoen and Sumritsakul’s study, which established that L2 learners are associated with multi-active cultures whose most outstanding characteristic is value for feelings and emotions (Meechaicharoen & Sumritsakul, 2018). Under the second category of data analyzed, L2 learners used one appeal in their essays while L1 learners regularly used at least two appeals in the papers. According to a study by Wachsmuth et al. (2018), persuasion in written essays cannot be achieved through one rhetoric strategy. From this argument, it is arguable that L1 learners were more persuasive because of incorporating more than one rhetoric of appeal. However, that is not to say that L2 learners cannot achieve persuasiveness. Sometimes persuasion is achieved if the learners make proper use of one rhetoric appeal.

Conclusion and Recommendation

The research study aimed at establishing the use of rhetoric appeals amongst university students. The essay’s primary objective was to show the difference between L2 and L1 essays in terms of using rhetoric appeals to achieve the persuasiveness of their essays. From the study, it is arguable that there are huge differences in the use of rhetoric appeal amongst university learners classified as L1 and L2. The differences were very evident from the student writings. The study agreed with a host of previous research findings that L1 learners can incorporate at least one rhetoric appeal in their essays, making them more appealing and persuasive than L2 learners. L2 learners have a higher tendency to use pathos in their writings than their L1 peers, who have a higher tendency to make use of Logos. The Toulmin scores framework gives a host of explanations for these differences. For example, it identifies the difference in methods used in class as the primary factor that leads to the differences. Equally, the differences could be a result of the student’s language culture. L2 learners are a member of multi-active cultures highly influenced by the value of feelings and emotions.

The relevant education stakeholders should address the factors leading to these differences. Addressing the factors especially amongst L2 learners shall lead to positive changes in the quality of arguments presented by L2 learners through their essays. Language and Media is crucial topic ineffective communication. Educators should draw L2 learners’ attention to incorporating an element of logos into their persuasive essays. Logos is used to persuade the target audience, as argued for by Aristotle. L2 learners need to develop an understanding of the value of building complete and competent argumentative Media. Educators should therefore ensure the incorporation of materials that teach learners the value of using at least two rhetoric appeals in their essays, making the reports more appealing to the target audience.


Khadka, S. (2018). A broad-based multiliteracies theory and praxis for a diverse writing classroom. Computers and Composition, 47, 93-110.

Meechaicharoen & Sumritsakul, C. (2018). Reporting Strategies of Rhetoric on the Effectiveness of Internal Control Reports. RMUTL Journal of Business Administration and Liberal Arts, 6(1), 148-161.

Poole, R. (2016). A corpus-aided approach for the teaching and learning of rhetoric in an undergraduate composition course for L2 writers. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 21, 99-109.

Ting, D. I. N. G. (2017). English and Chinese discourse transfer under the contrastive rhetoric framework. Journal of Nanjing University of Science and Technology (Social Sciences Edition), 2, 14-19.

Ting, S. H. (2018). Ethos, logos, and pathos in university students’ informal requests. GEMA Online® Journal of Language Studies, 18(1).

Wachsmuth, H., Stede, M., El Baff, R., Al Khatib, K., Skeppstedt, M., & Stein, B. (2018, August). Argumentation synthesis following rhetorical strategies. In Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics (pp. 3753-3765).

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