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Teaching Tips

Debate language for students

By Hannah Haase on February, 10 2022

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Hannah Haase

Born and raised in Germany, Hannah started learning English as a Second Language in 5th grade and French in 7th grade. After completing her Master’s in Education, ESL, and History at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, she moved to the United States to become a teacher at the Milwaukee German Immersion School and a professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. She is now a content creator, blog author, and pedagogical mentor at Robotel.

As language teachers, we are always trying to prepare our students for the real world and anything they might encounter as they speak the language they are learning while traveling. So, some of the things your students will have to master are: debates, discussions, and conversations about difficult topics. 

 

 

Discussions are a great way to involve your students actively in the language learning process. Not only will students strengthen their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, but they will also practice developing important argumentative skills during a debate.

Our "Let'sTalk! English" curriculum includes debates in every chapter of our Levels B2 and C.

Download the “Let’s Talk! English” brochure

Debate set-up: 

Debates usually start with the affirmative team, followed by a member of the opposing team. Then another member of the affirmative team is up again, then opposing, and so forth. After each side has presented their arguments, they each get a chance to rebut the arguments made by the other side. So, a debate can take up an entire lesson, depending on how involved the topic is, how many members of each team are presenting, and how prepared your students are. 

But it doesn’t have to. It could also be a short warm-up activity where everyone gets to say something. I liked doing this because it allowed my students to practice using typical debate language whenever possible

It’s also important to set up rules for a debate such as:

  1. Be respectful.
  2. Do your research and come prepared.
  3. Use appropriate language only.
  4. Don’t interrupt others.
  5. Keep within your time frame.
  6. Speak only when it is your turn.
  7. Speak loudly and clearly.
  8. Support your arguments with evidence.

 

Debate topics can really be anything.

  • Fast food should be banned.
  • Professional athletes should not be able to make more than $1 million dollars in pay each year.
  • Climate change is the greatest threat to our planet today.
  • Animal testing should be banned.
  • College should be tuition-free.
  • Every government should have to invest in alternative energy.

You can find a ton of debate questions online that work for the topic you are currently teaching in class.

 

I like to give my students a few typical debate phrases to introduce them to the language often used in discussions and arguments. 

 

Important debate language for students:

 

For the introduction:

The topic of today’s debate is …

People believe that ...

 

For presenting your argument:

The most important (second important) argument is ...

Another argument is ...

The main point/thing/idea is ...

Most importantly …

I’d like to point out that …

I am convinced that …

I believe ...

 

Supporting your argument:

What I mean by that is …

I’d like to emphasize that …

I’d like to point out that …

An example of that is …

 

Disagreeing:

I will have to disagree with …

I see your point, but …

I don’t think that is true because …

I’m afraid I have to disagree with …

The evidence we saw does not support …

In the article _____, it was clearly stated that …

 

Agreeing:

_____ had a good point ...

I agree with …

I think he/she has the right idea …

I completely support that argument …

I’d like to add to ______’s point of view …

 

These are only a few examples of debate language for students. You can download the full list here.

 

What are your favorite debate rules, topics, or phrases? Leave me a comment below!

 

Hannah Haase

(Language Teacher, Textbook Co-Author, Pedagogical Mentor)

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