What is an analysis? 

Basically, the aim of a text analysis is finding out what textual strategies an author of a particular text applied in order to reach a certain goal. We assume here that every textual device is used to create a certain effect, to support a certain message.

Whereas a comprehension task in a Klausur focuses on the question WHAT?  (is said / is written), the analysis focuses on the questions HOW? and WHY?.

In fictional texts, you could for example analyse how a character is characterized (indirectly / directly) and how this affects the reader’s perception of this character and how this influences the role this character plays for the whole novel / story / play…

In non-fictional texts, you could analyse what the purpose of the text is (expository / argumentative / persuasive…), what its message is (to criticize sth. / to prove a point / to thoroughly examine sth.) and, most importantly, with which stylistic, textual and argumentative devices the author brings his/her message across.

In order to examine the stylistic, argumentative and structural devices, you should know about them and about their potential effects.

How do I structure an analysis? 

Structure and writing straight to the point is of the utmost importance here. Have a look at an “Erwartungshorizont” and you will see that structure makes up to one fifth of the overall points.

In general, one can summarize the structure as follows:

  1. introduction: strong thesis statement with stylistic, textual and argumentative devices that your analysis will focus on (serves as a table of content)
  2. body with 4-5 complex paragraphs: each paragraph starts with a topic sentences that connects the topic of the paragraph to the thesis statement and therefore focusses on one analysis aspect only
  3. conclusion: which sums up the main results of the analysis

Here is a good concise description of how to write a well-structured analysis.

For further reading, I highly recommend the following book:

Aczel, Richard. 2014. How to write an essay. Klett. 

This is an analysis written by a student of an English class year 12 (senior year). Her task was to analyze the article  “Modern-Day Slavery. Qatar World Cup: Migrants Wait a Year to Be Paid for Building Offices” by Robert Booth and Pete Pattison printed in Edelbrock, Iris (Hrsg.). 2015. Pathway Advanced. Schoeningh, S. 294ff. The text is the original student version which has not been corrected or altered.

The article “Modern – Day Slavery. Qatar World Cup: Migrants Wait a Year to Be Paid for Building Offices” by Robert Booth and Pete Pattison is an argumentative text meant to inform the reader of the living and working situations of migrant workers in Qatar, as well as present the authors’ opinions on the topic and investigate how these conditions could come into being and why no actions have been undertaken to rectify them. To achieve this, the authors use comparisons, a negatively connoted language register, quotes, examples and a specific line of argumentation.
To present the living and working conditions of the migrant workers in Qatar and further underline the inhumanity of such conditions, the authors juxtapose the worldof the rich, for whom the migrant workers work, and the world of the poor, to which the workers belong. They achieve this by comparing their “cockroach-infested” living quarters (ll. 4f.) to the “luxury offices” (l.1) they built themselves. The offices feature “handmade Italian furniture” and a “heated executive toilet”, while the workers sleep on “thin, dirty mattresses on the floor and on bunk beds” and have “filthy, unplumbed toilets” (ll. 19f.; ll. 37f.; l. 110). Furthermore, a great contrast is built between the position of the migrant workers, who worked on building officesforthe 2022 Football World Cup and who come from “some of the world’s poorest countries” and the commissioner of said offices, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani,the emir of Qatar and head of the World Cup organising body (ll. 25f.). In addition tothat, the authors compare the cost of the luxury offices (“£2.5m”, l.18) to the workers’ unpaid and “modest” wage of “£6 a day” (l. 23). The differing amounts raise the question for the reader as to why the salaries cannot be paid.
Furthermore, negatively connoted words, exaggerations of numbers and a simile in the title further underline the severity of the situation and the authors’ position on the subject. Adjectives like “cockroach-infested” (ll. 4f.), “dirty” (l. 37), “appalling” (l. 71) and “filthy” (l. 110) belong to the authors’ choice of words and further visualizes the extent of the workers’ situation and the authors’ critical view of it. Moreover, the simile “modern – day slavery” in the title that compares the lives of the migrant workers to those of past slaves, as they have the non-payment of their wages and deplorable living conditions in common, stresses the inhumane mistreatment of the workers. Additionally, the authors refrain from using exact numbers and instead usevague and exaggerated depictions of the amount of mistreated workers (“several hundred thousand”, l. 24; “dozens more”, l. 103), thus emphasizing that the problems are severe and widespread in Qatar.

To prompt the reader to think about how the problems of these migrant workers could become so critical and why the government has not been prosecuted for theiromitted action, the authors set up contradictions and examples of the workers’ challenges. This is mostly done by highlighting the contradiction that the working and living conditions are “in breach of Qatar’s own labour standards” (l. 38) and “contravene International Labour Organisation conventions […] and UN […] protocols” (ll. 117ff.), yet still are “widespread” (l. 119). Furthermore, it is stated that one of the main roots of the workers’ issue is the kafala sponsorship system, which prevents them from leaving the country and being stranded in Qatar. To underline the obscurity of the situation, the authors mention the fruitless promise of the Qatar government to abolish this system (l. 97). Futile complaints from the workers’ to the Qatari authorities as well as mysterious deaths emphasize the investigative, suspicious nature of the article (“migrant workers die mysteriously in their sleep from suspected heart attacks”, ll. 103f.).

Lastly, the authors point out that there is no clear future for the migrant workers in Qatar, which they prove with vague statements by officials and insufficient information for future plans. For once there is generally “no concern from the Qatar government” (l. 72f.) which leads to the belief of no proper prosecutions in the near future. The fact that the Qatar’s World Cup organising committee states that they are “heavily dismayed” and that Katara projects wants to rectify the situation but that they do not state their concrete future actions supports the authors’ critical point.

To draw a conclusion, the authors reiterate their critical and investigative point of view with the help of this article, through which they inform the reader of the migrantworkers in Qatar, who are faced daily with dire living and working conditions and have no way of escaping this situation as they have neither the sufficient financial resources nor the legal permission to leave the country. Moreover, they prompt the reader to think of reasons why the situation is so obscure and why the Qatar government, which is mainly responsible for the workers’ situation hasn’t done anything to go against it or why it hasn’t been prosecuted for its inaction.