The Importance of Foreign Language Study: Audience Analysis

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The topic I chose for my persuasive speech was the study of foreign languages. It was my goal to persuade the class to study a foreign language, because of the overwhelming amount of Americans who speak only English. Foreign language enrollment at Sauk is down, so significantly so that the French program faces cancellation, so I hoped that those hearing my speech would be inclined to register for a class. My concerns with choosing a topic that is not considered a “hot button issue” was that the audience might simply feel apathy towards the subject with no opinion whatsoever. While that audience wouldn’t be particularly difficult to persuade, it would be a challenge to make them at all enthusiastic about the topic.

In addition to getting a feel as to the level of apathy, I was primarily concerned with knowing how many in the class were bilingual, and whether had learned the language at home or not. When I complied my survey, I took care to ask some questions in such a way where I was informed not only of their answer, but also their attitudes and thoughts towards the topic.

There were six questions on my completed survey. Three of the questions were fixed and one was scaled, while the other two were open-ended. I had 19 completed surveys returned to me.

The first question on my survey asked “do you read or speak a language other than English?” Out of the 19 people who completed the survey, only four answered “yes”. That was good news in terms of my speech, because I knew that left me 15 people in the classroom to persuade. The four that could speak another language could also be persuaded to study yet another language and not be limited at two or three languages.

The second question was open-ended. It asked those who answered “yes” to the first question what language they spoke, and where they learned it at. I expected to get “Spanish” as a common result, and was not disappointed. Three out of the four people who answered “yes” spoke Spanish. French and Dutch were other languages spoken or read by those in the class. One person who answered “no” to the first question interestingly enough added that they “learned Spanish in high school.” They all learned the languages in a variety of ways, through classes, living in foreign countries, and through family members. In hindsight, I wished I had asked about proficiency. While many students mentioned later on in the survey that they completed a foreign language class in high school, only two of them answered “yes” to speaking or reading a foreign language. It made me wish I had defined the parameters a bit more.

The first two questions not only let me...

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