Monday, 14 April 2014

How to teach an ESL Debate Lesson.

Debate ESL Lesson
I have recently started teaching debate lessons to my high level high school classes. The students seem to really like them and they get very involved in the debate. The lesson as a whole gives them great practice in presenting, speaking, listening and even reading depending on how you ask them to research their ideas. This is how I structure my debate lessons.

My class is already split into four groups, but if yours isn't your should first split you class into groups. For the sake of the debate an even number works best! Once the students are in groups introduce the statement to your class. In my classes the statement is usually something non controversial and related to school life (Ex. Should cell phones be allowed in school). Of course if it is culturally ok and your class is at a high level you could introduce a more controversial current events type topic. (Here are some other ideas for current events lessons)

Ask each group to decide if they agree or disagree with the statement and think of a reason. You can now decide which groups will debate against each other. Of course sometimes you will get an uneven number of groups agreeing or disagreeing, in these cases you will just have to choose one group to pretend they have the opposite opinion.

Research and gathering ideas. These can be done in a number of ways, if your classroom has access to the internet the students can use this time to research arguments for their debate. Alternatively you can find some information before class yourself that the students can read OR just have the students use their existing knowledge. Depending on which of these you choose could make quite a difference to the overall time the lesson takes.

Organising their arguments. The students should now organise their ideas and research into a debate. I ask my students to use this template: introduction-main ideas-conlusion. Before the students start this section is also a good time to introduce any phrases that might help them with the debate.

Opening arguments. Each group should now present their opening arguments. While doing this their opponents should write down some of their points so they can come up with a rebuttal.

Now give the class a set amount of time (5mins works well) to come up with a rebuttal to the other groups opening argument. Each group should then present this to the class.

If your class is particularly competitive and you want to decide on a winner have the other groups in the class vote on which group was the most persuasive.

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