What does George Orwell’s Animal Farm have in common with products such as perfumes, energy drinks and chocolate? As Linda Manney explained at the beginning of her presentation at the 22nd International Convention, Orwell’s well-known book was the inspiration for this project aimed at 12-18 year old teenagers. The subject, of course: Propaganda.
How is propaganda used in today’s adverts which bombard our children? Are children aware of the techniques used in advertisements and which persuade them to buy the product? As Linda explained, she began the project by showing World War II posters to her students where the principles of advertising are more obvious, the images have both an emotional and personal appeal and the use of language is overdramatic. The task for the students: to find posters from the 40s. The ones the students chose definitely had the exaggeration of the time.
Moving on to today’s adverts, Linda explained how the same principles are used- they appeal to our most basic drives: glamour, wealth, excitement, adventure. Our task? to find the clusters i.e. the group of textual parts which work together to convey a stronger message.; to watch adverts and find how the music adds to this; to find how the ads shown “speak to our fantasy”.
All in all, Linda Manney’s presentation had exactly what one would want when leaving a convention: a project ready to use in the classroom for the teachers while at the same time doing more than just teaching English. It is this awareness raising which has become so important in today’s world and goes beyond language learning itself that this project offers and will remain with learners forever.
By Natasha Loukeri