Speaking in Academic Contexts 

Rhetorical Functions in Academic Speaking: Arguing & discussing

Talks which contain argument usually have the following sections: background, author's argument, arguments against, rejection of arguments against, arguments for, discussion & conclusion.

Example 1

Should military service be compulsory?

Military service is compulsory in most countries of the world. In some European countries all citizens must spend two years full-time in the army, air force or navy from the age of eighteen and to continue to train on a part-time basis throughout their adult lives to be ready in case of war. In other countries, notably Britain and the United States, military service is not compulsory.

In this talk I intend to look at some of the arguments for and against compulsory military service. First I want to look at the arguments in its favour.

I think there are three main points in support of compulsory military service. Firstly, all countries need a military force. This force defends the citizens in times of war and therefore all citizens should make some contribution. The second point is a practical one. If a country cannot attract enough volunteers to the military service then it cannot operate as effective defence. The third and most often mentioned point is that military service is a good discipline fur young people - it teaches them practical and social skills and encourages them to take responsibility for themselves and others. A society with compulsory military service is therefore a better society.

The main arguments against are to do with individual freedom. Many people question the value of a young person breaking his or her career or education in order to learn how to kill.

In my opinion, military service should not be compulsory, but some kind of useful social service should be. That is, all young people should be required either to do military service or to work with disadvantaged groups in the community - for example, with those in hospitals, old people's homes, special schools. This experience would be valuable to the community and would also build a sense of responsibility in the individual. However, whether a person chooses military or community service, their commitment should be part-time so that education and career are not interrupted. I also think that all young people should be involved - male and female.

(Adapted from Perspectives by Andy Hopkins, Longman, 1989, p. 70)

 

Back to: Speaking: Functions 13: Arguing & Discussing

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