This section is broken down into two topics: 1) Political Communication & Broadcast Media; 2) Rhetoric & the Art of Persuasion.

Glossary items, student activities, and teacher resources deal with and raise questions about the broad meanings behind communication and information, as well the characteristics of mass communication and persuasive communication.

The learning goals and objectives for each topic have been adapted from the Illinois Learning Standards for the Language Arts, which were adopted in 1997 (visit for more information). These standards are easily adaptable to learning standards in other states.

Language Arts Goals

  • Listen effectively in formal and informal situations.
  • Speak effectively using language appropriate to the situation and audience
  • Communicate ideas in writing to accomplish a variety of purposes.

Political Communication & Broadcast Media

Since the early days of radio, political communication has used and transformed broadcast media. Debates, press conferences, "fireside chats," political advertising -- each has contributed to the increasing role of the broadcast media in shaping the delivery and reception of political messages. As they explore the many varieties and nuances of the language arts present in political communication, students can:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the relationship of verbal and nonverbal messages within a context.
  • Use techniques for analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of oral messages.
  • Ask questions and respond to questions from the teacher and from group members to improve comprehension.
  • Ask and respond to questions related to oral presentations and messages in small and large group settings.
  • Identify main verbal and nonverbal communication elements and strategies to maintain communications and to resolve conflict.

Rhetoric & the Art of Persuasion

What matters in an argument? How do our political leaders persuade us to support one policy or course of action over another? Are the ideas and arguments themselves more important than the way in which those ideas and arguments are expressed? Using presidential debates as a starting point to answer these and similar questions, students can:

  • Use criteria to evaluate a variety of speakers' verbal and nonverbal messages.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the relationship of verbal and nonverbal messages within a context.
  • Evaluate written work for its effectiveness and make recommendations for its improvement.
  • Write for real or potentially real situations in academic, professional and civic contexts.
  • Communicate information and ideas in persuasive writing with clarity and effectiveness in a variety of written forms using appropriate traditional and/or electronic formats; adapt content, vocabulary, voice and tone to the audience, purpose and situation.