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This is a lesson plan for higher levels (C1+) designed to help students develop their discourse management and debating skills. Download the handouts below:
- Debating at Higher Levels Teacher’s notes
- Debating at Higher Levels
- Advanced Debates Phrase Sheet + Topics
- 5 min Debate Slang: Transcript
Discourse Analysis: Guardian 5-minute Debates
In this section of the lesson students will watch a video from the Guardian 5-minute debate series in order to analyse the ways in which the speakers structure their arguments and the language they use. The topic of the debate is:
- Should slang words be banned in the classroom?
In the debate the two speakers (Michael Rosen and Lindsay Johns) are specifically talking about London street slang. A school in South London took the decision to ban street slang from the classroom, the banned words are in the picture below:
If you want to look up any of these words you can use the urban dictionary.
Language to pre-teach:
- code switching – changing from one language, dialect, or way of speaking to another depending on who you’re speaking to.
- cultural relativism – the theory that beliefs, customs, and morality exist in relation to the particular culture from which they originate and are not absolute. (What’s considered acceptable in one culture might not be in another)
- Live in an ivory tower – to be out of touch or to not understand the true reality of a situation. To live in a privileged position and therefore not understand the real world.
Have students watch the debate, while they are watching they should answer these questions:
- Who wins the debate and why?
- Useful phrase for debating.
- Ways of structuring an argument.
Discuss their thoughts in open class.
Give out the transcript and show students the powerpoint. The powerpoint will take them through some of the structural techniques that Michael Rosen uses such as:
- Conceding/partially agreeing
- Hedging/being more indirect
- Asking and answering your own questions
- Presenting evidence
- Being emphatic
A Less Formal Debate – Debate-O-Rama Cats vs. Dogs
Now tell students they’re going to watch a less formal debate, the topic is dogs vs. cats. Split the class into two groups: the dog group and the cat group. Each group has to watch the video and and write down the arguments that the two people give to support their animal, i.e dogs are smelly, cats are selfish.
Students watch the video and takes notes. (Video from 1:15)
Give out the debate language handout. Tell students that they are going to recreate the dogs vs. cats debate but using the language on the handout and some of the structural techniques we saw earlier. Give them 8-10 minutes to structure their arguments. The debate will follow the following structure:
- Opening statement (90 secs)
- Cross examination (30 secs)
- Rebuttal #1 (30 secs each)
- Rebuttal #2 (30 secs each)
- Closing Statements (30 secs each)
Award a winner based on the strength of their arguments and how well structured they are. The debate handout has further debate topics for future classes.
The way I see it,
In my view,
In my opinion, I think that
My view on the matter is…
As far as I understand it,
As far as I’m concerned,
I’d say that…
I personally am (not) a big fan of…
All the evidence points to/suggests…
I think you’ll find that…
If you ask anyone,…
The vast majority of people would say…
We have no evidence that…
9 out of 10 people would say that…
There’s no evidence to support that whatsoever.
I support/oppose the notion that… for the following reason: Firstly,…
The key issue here is…
The real question/dilemma is… (question form)
The critical/crucial factor here is…
It’s vital to remember that…
By far and away the most important point is…
On top of that,
Apart from that,
Another thing to consider is…
We shouldn’t forget that…
It’s also worth bearing in mind that…
So what you’re saying is…
So let me get this straight…
Correct me if I’m wrong but…
You’re not seriously suggesting that…, are you?
You can’t possibly be saying that…
I feel I must also disagree with you about…
I admit that your point about… may be true, however,
I take/see your point about…
Let’s say I agree with the idea of…
I hear what you’re saying, but…
In a nutshell,
So to sum up,
So in summary,
So to wrap up,
So as I was saying,
All in all,
1. Opening statement (90 secs)
2. Cross examination (30 secs)
4. Rebuttal #1 (30 secs each)
5. Rebuttal #2 (30 secs each)
6. Closing Statements (30 secs each)
Low-stakes Debate Topics
(Credit to debatable youtube page)
|Dogs vs. Cats||Superpowers:
Flight vs. Invisibility
|Pancakes vs. Waffles||Hot dogs vs. Hamburgers||French fries vs. Patatas bravas|
|Beer vs. Wine||Whisky vs. Rum||Are ghost real?||Does the internet do more good or bad?||Camping, good or bad?|
|Taylor Swift vs. Ariana Grande||Soup vs. salad||Pasta vs. pizza||Is it ok to pee in the shower?||Tea vs. Coffee|
|Coke vs. Pepsi||Burger King vs. MacDonald’s||Chinese food vs. Japanese food||City vs. Country||Morning Showers vs. Night Showers|
8 thoughts on “Debating at Higher Levels”
I have diploma of cambridge and I am a simultaneous interpreter invated by eurolanguages to travel and Boston Philadelphia regards
Thanks so much for your detailed instructing !
Thank you so much! This is perfect for my C2 class.
Thanks for this Tim. I am teaching advanced business English to undergraduates and this will be tremendously useful!
I tried this lesson, slightly reworking on it and re-adapting it, and it was extremely successful. Thank you so much!