The following debate works well with most levels and offers plenty of opportunities for input and feedback. I have followed this structure with a business class, PET, FCE and CAE classes and it worked well. I love the fact that this activity involves every single student.
To develop debating skills, to use agreeing expressions, disagreeing expressions, expressions to interrupt politely and expressions to express an opinion.
NUMBER OF STUDENTS FOR THIS ACTIVITY: 6 or 8 (It could easily be adapted though)
➢ Divide the class into groups/pairs and hand out the lists of expressions you prepare before the class. Each group must choose six expressions from ONE of the categories: agreeing expressions, disagreeing expressions, expressions to interrupt politely and expressions to express an opinion. Encourage them to choose either new expressions or ones they know but require more practice to correctly incorporate them into their language. Then the students write the expression on each of the six lollipop sticks
➢ Put the students into pairs and ask them to choose two topics they want to debate
✓ TIP: prepare some topics in advance to save time and maintain the pace
✓ TIP: think of topics based on previous units to revise vocabulary
➢ Using the new expressions to agree and disagree, put two pairs together to eliminate two topics from their common list of four. It gives students an opportunity to practise the expressions before the actual debate starts
➢ As a whole class and using the given expressions, students reduce their list of topics to final two
➢ Pair students up for the debate. I made it more interactive by asking them to find their partner.I wrote down famous Spanish couples on individual pieces of paper and handed them out. The students had to ask each other three questions before they decided who their spouse is e.g. What do you do, Where do you live, are you Penelope Cruz? etc.
✓ TIP: make sure all students know the celebrities you chose.
➢ Students sit with their “spouses “
➢ The judge and their secretary (one couple) must come up with the rules and decide on the structure of the debate (monitor this and offer suggestions if necessary)
➢ The remaining two teams have 5 to 10 minutes to prepare three arguments
✓ TIP: ask fast finishers to anticipate the arguments of the other team
➢ Before the judge begins the debate take three expressions from each category and place them in front of each team on the table (now each team should have 12 expressions /lollypop sticks in front of them)
➢ As a team, each student introduces an argument which is passed to an opposing team member for discussion, who then introduces counter argument which is passed back to the first team for discussion, etc. Once the students have successfully introduced their expressions into an argument, the stick is taken away
✓ Make sure every expression is followed by a logical argument as often students will simply read the expression itself and consider that a contribution
✓ Students lose points if there are lollipop sticks left on the table at the end of the debate
➢ The final student provides a short summary of the main points. Allow up to 2 minutes for this part per team
✓ TIP: Encourage each team to provide each other with feedback
✓ TIP: Ask the judge to analyze the debate based on rules the teams were told to follow rather than the strength of the arguments, because if the students are friends with their classmates they often feel uncomfortable and put on the spot when they are asked to decide who the winner is
➢ Feedback and correction
➢ After the first debate the secretary switches with one of the members of team A and the judge replaces a member from team B. The remaining members of team A and B switch the expressions to make sure they use new expressions in the next debate
➢ Teams could get an extra point for each new/original argument
➢ The secretary makes notes during the debate which could later be used to write a formal letter to a boss (e.g. meetings are a waste of time) and students describe what was said at the “meeting”/debate
➢ The introduction of arguments should be short, to give students as much time as possible for the actual interaction which could be extended to 5 minutes. Depending on the length of the class and the number of debates you’ve planned, I would suggest shorter debates to make sure the judge and the secretary also get to participate)
➢ Maybe one student could be asked to introduce the arguments and another to close, in order to equally engage all students