INTRODUCE YOUR STUDENTS TO DEBATING!
Students in every country of the world have ideas and beliefs about the way things should
be done. They enjoy expressing their thoughts with their friends in a restaurant, with their family at home or at an outdoor game in a field or inside an arena. In those venues they would be speaking their own language. Let’s talk about boosting their self confidence and fluency with the English language.
At what Level of English are the students ready for debating?
As a general rule it’s likely that the class would need to be at a high intermediate or advanced level, but there are factors that can alter that.
All groups of students are different as are the expectations of different cultures. Another factor to consider is the subject of the debate. Have the students had exposure to any of the required vocabulary in previous lessons?
If the teacher feels that the subject is of particular interest, then he or she can introduce the background information in one session and have the debate in the next. The students can be encouraged to consider their point of view outside of class or some time can be provided during the English session.
Who will profit from debating experiences?
The discussions and arguments that debates promote are well suited to students over sixteen. The younger ones often feel strongly about athletics; the rules of a game, the way the referee calls it and any inequities that exist between the opposing teams. The more mature students are likely to have a strong bias for one side. They might want to discuss the details of how their favorite team played. Who is the best player? Why their team won or lost.
How does it help their English?
When the content of the English lessons deals with subjects of high interest, the students become engrossed in the discussion. They think of things that they want to add to the discussion and are motivated to look in their dictionaries for the words they need to explain their idea. Although they may tend to discuss the topic with their friends in their own language, they will also help each other with the way to express their thoughts in English. Cheerful reminders are usually enough to keep the English flowing.
Debating is an exciting activity that requires students to think in English. They laugh among themselves, they feel a sense of success when they express an idea that is new the group, and they leave the class talking about the classroom events or arguing about the topic. A teacher can judge the effectiveness of a lesson by the students’ level of enthusiasm as they leave.
Debating is a great way to get students talking. You’ll enjoy your debating classes. Perhaps you’ll wish you were a participant rather than a supporter and cheer leader!
Updated January 23, 2011