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13. The Strategies Used To Support Arguments By College Students In Speech Contest


Chapter one discusses the background knowledge about the topic being studied. It encompasses the background of the study itself, the reason for choosing the topic, the problem statement, the objective, and the significance of the study as well as the outline of the presentation. Entirely, it reflects the basic thinking framework outlining the remaining chapters.

1.1 The Background of the Study

People need others to help them to meet the needs in their life. Communication is considered vital to assist them in order to reach such purpose, and as to be able to engage with society and surrounding environment. In the process of having relation with others, he should have an effective communication. The effective communication is required for them in making friends, persuading others, making decision, falling in love, making personal and professional relationship in the work (Gamble and Gamble, 1983: 3). To be successful in gaining the goal of communication in life is determined by a skill to communicate effectively. The bad news is this skill is not born; yet, the good news is it can be learned and exercised. Therefore, it is compulsory to work hard upon it. The result of the communication affects one’s relationship with other people. If someone could not do good in carrying out communication with others, his life will full of unhappiness and vain venture (Baird, 1981: 6). There is an indication that comprehending the skill is incredibly essential for people to succeed in the future life.

The process of this communication learning will always continue throughout one’s life. Steward and Cash (1978 in Baird, 1981:5) provide an affirmation stating that communication is an activity, which people engage almost constantly; from the moment we are born until the instant we die. To this point, in daily life, communication occupies a central point for us. Nonetheless, the problems of communication come up; loosing ideas when speaking, finding difficulties in finding the appropriate words, and anxiety or stage fright. The result of a research in America also recorded that 3000 Americans found public speaking dreaded more than sickness or even death (Fletcher, 1979: 1). Thus, it is a need to rehearse delivering speech to make it effective. It is essential for people not to take it for granted.

Some people assume that they have mastered communication well since it indeed happens in the early times. However, a research proves that this assumption is undeniably false by seeing the personal experiences into account. To be able to communicate effectively is proven to be not easy, but still some of them take it for granted. The point is that when people would like to improve the ability to communicate effectively, they need to start rehearsing early. At one time or another almost everyone has been bored by a tedious public speaker (Burgoon, Michel, and Ruffner, Michael, 1978:269). They likely put everyone to sleep when giving their speech at a graduation ceremony, at a political meeting, or even in a classroom. For this reason, the supposition can be drawn that the ability to perform communication in public indeed to some extent is vital.

To get knowledge of such communication skill is also essential for people in the academic field. It happens so often that students are quite hard to perform in giving speech in front of their familiar friends and teachers. They become speechless, sweating, worried, and else. Likewise, it becomes more complicated when they are asked to give speech using English language. It is possible that they might not get particular subject of communication. Seeing such a case, one should keep doing rehearsal and getting knowledge of such communication in order to have the competence in public speaking.

As a matter of fact, nowadays, performing speech, particularly in English, as the challenging one, is being considerable to gain particular purposes-business, job requirement, academic and scientific work, and some others. Having good public speaking, let us say speech, undeniably could change someone’s life. Aristotle in his book, The Rhetoric (in Mulyana,1995: 2) declares that there are four functions of public speaking; to avoid the unfairness or deviation, to instruct something, to discuss certain cases to clarify the problems from different angles, and to defend him/herself. People who will be successful in gaining those four functions is those who could influence or convince others if what they are talking about is proven to be true. Thus, in some extent, it deals with the way the speakers support and convey their arguments to convince others. At this point, comprehending the way to support arguments by orators is unquestionably essential.

Giving an argument is becoming the indispensable need for students since they are the agent of change. In doing this, they will consequently get engaged in finding the way how to be able to deliver speech with the arguments which can be proven. Students seemingly are looking forward chance to participate in showing their competence in performing public speaking-speech, and giving argument. In order to have an effective argument, it is a need to make the reasons supporting the argument, which is important and effective to the listeners. However, where do these things come from? What makes a reason important and plausible to listeners? Baird (1981: 229) states that there are two things that can make the reasons of argument are believable; the things are proven to be true, and the things that make sense. Consequently, there is a need to have competence in such case.

As what we have discussed before that the role of being the agent of dynamic changes in this recent ages might have forced them to participate in giving their criticism and ideas for the development and betterment of the environment. The fact is that it is now being common for them in joining certain competitions as their mediators in giving aspiration, criticism, and sometimes idealism. They are free to take their position in particular cases dealing with controversial issues or social problems. Hence, there will be a chance for them to express their mind and to give resolution for the betterment of society. How do students do this then? One of the ways is by giving a speech for certain function and occasion-competition, for example. It might not merely to inform others, but it could expand as to persuade or to make believe, or even to entertain. They are obliged to give their ideas, opinions, and arguments upon the topic discussed. However, some problems might rise, like how should the students support their arguments so that they could convince the audience, especially the judges. The comprehension of delivering the speech is also required here to perform the speech successfully.

Referring to the above considerations, it is essential to acknowledge and to evaluate the strategies used by speakers to support arguments in their speech and in systematical, structural, and effective way. Thus, we would be aware of the way to support arguments and to expect listeners to believe them.

1.2 The Reasons for Choosing the Topic
Two reasons come up as the basis of the topic of the study. Firstly, the speech contest conducted by English Student Association (ESA) of Semarang State University well known as ESAWEEK Speech Contest, is a challenging competition in which involves the university students around Central Java to demonstrate their arguments in certain issues in English. This annual event has become one of the fora for students in expressing their arguments upon some given issues. In presenting the speech, they are required to support their arguments in order to convince and impress the listeners especially the judges.

Obviously, their success would depend on the competence in public speaking. Beside considering the content of the speech, the assessment taken by the judges also includes the grammar, pronunciation, fluency, performance, and authenticity as well. Hence, this yearly rivalry could picture their competence in giving the speech in front of public. Moreover, it is not simply performing the speech in front of audience, but also it would be a matter of their proficiency in conveying and supporting their basic arguments so that they could convince audience. Seeing the fact that the ability of using English in conveying their arguments and support them is so diverse, it comes in mind the curiosity to examine it further. Therefore, it becomes the second reason in choosing the topic. The way the speakers use to deliver the speech and as well as to get the audience attention, and finally to influence one’s mind in viewing certain issues are things that will be the focus of the next discussion. Specifically, it deals with the strategies they use to support their arguments as effective as possible to gain certain aims.

1.3 The Statement of the Problems
Speakers in speech contest should demonstrate a reasonable and clear argument to the audience, particularly judges. They are asked to take position over the selective issues. Some issues discussed in the speech are selective ones and need a particular way to argue. Performing the speech and giving arguments effectively indeed become a kind of challenges for students since they certainly require some strategies in order to achieve the purpose of the speech. In short, there are two problems rising in this study:
1. What kind of strategies are used by the speakers of ESAWEEK Speech Contest 2005 to support their arguments?
2. What are the functions of supporting arguments found in the speech?

1.4 The Objective of the Study
The purpose of the study is formulated as:
1. To describe the strategies used by the speakers of the speech contest in supporting the arguments
2. To identify the functions of supporting arguments in the speech used by the speakers.

1.5 The Significance of the Study
The result of the study is to give contributions, practically and theoretically as well. First of all, the practical contribution is offered to the potential participants of speech contest. It could be specified as follow:
1. To remind them about the importance of public speaking, especially speech;
2. To enable them to acknowledge the strategies to support arguments or ideas systematically and chronologically, and to identify the function of the supporting arguments since it is indeed essential in daily communication; and
3. To bring about the issues concerning the English speech contest for university students. Meanwhile, the theoretical contributions would be made by enriching and enhancing the knowledge in the field of linguistic.
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