Posted in Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Debating at Higher Levels

Image result for debate

Image credit: The Merkle

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a lesson plan for higher levels (C1+) designed to help students develop their discourse management and debating skills. Download the handouts below:

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:

slang

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/video/2013/dec/09/should-schools-ban-slang-video-debate

 

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:

Debate Structure

  1. Opening statement (90 secs)
  2. Cross examination (30 secs)
  3. (repeat)
  4. Rebuttal #1 (30 secs each)
  5. Rebuttal #2 (30 secs each)
  6. 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.

Debate Handout:

Language

Opinion

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…

Evidence/Popular Opinion

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.

 

Main arguments

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…

Adding points

What’s more,

On top of that,

Besides that,

Apart from that,

Another thing to consider is…

We shouldn’t forget that…

It’s also worth bearing in mind that…

Rebutting/Cross-Examining

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…

Conceding/Partially Agreeing

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…

Conclusion

In a nutshell,

So to sum up,

So in summary,

So to wrap up,

So as I was saying,

All in all,

Debate Structure

1.       Opening statement (90 secs)

2.       Cross examination (30 secs)

3.       (repeat)

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
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Posted in Conversation Classes

Dilemmas and Debates

Image credit: www.osomac.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a straightforward “What would you do?” speaking activity to practice hypothetical conditionals and just generate debate and conversation.  Download the powerpoint below and project it or print it:

Dilemmas and debates

Language of agreeing and disagreeing will be useful.

Agreeing Disagreeing Ending an argument:
  • We see eye to eye
  • I couldn’t agree with you more.
  • That’s exactly how I feel.
  • You have a point there.
  • I was just going to say that.
  • Absolutely.
  • We don’t see eye to eye
  • I take your point but
  • I tend to disagree with you there
  • I’m afraid I have to disagree with you there
  • I beg to differ
  • That’s not always the case.
  • Let’s just move on shall we?
  • I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

Credit to: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tracyclayton/moral-dilemmas-that-will-break-your-brain#.lhwmbK9XK

For a couple of the ideas.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Conversation topic: The best way to…

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Image credit: www.cleverprocrastination.com

This is a straightforward conversation topic lesson plan which can be used with both teens and adults and many levels (high A2+). Students discuss the best thing to do in different situations.

You will need the “best way to…” powerpoint:

The best way to

Language

Put the following structures on the board:

Opinion:

  • In my opinion
  • From my point of view
  • As far as I’m concerned
  • I reckon

The best/worst thing to do is…

Agreeing and disagreeing:

Agreeing Disagreeing Ending an argument:
  • We see eye to eye
  • I couldn’t agree with you more.
  • That’s exactly how I feel.
  • You have a point there.
  • I was just going to say that.
  • Absolutely.
  • We don’t see eye to eye
  • I take your point but
  • I tend to disagree with you there
  • I’m afraid I have to disagree with you there
  • I beg to differ
  • That’s not always the case.
  • Let’s just move on shall we?
  • I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

Project the powerpoint onto the board and go through the slides. Play devil’s advocate and ensure that students debate each topic thoroughly.

Debates

You could split the class into teams and debate one of the topics. Give each team an opinion, for example “the best way to break up with someone is by text”, and they have to defend that opinion even if they don’t agree with it.

Homework

Have students choose one of the topics raised and write an essay on it; exploring the different ways suggested and reaching a conclusion as to which is the best.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Grammar Classes

3rd Conditional: Balloon Debate

Photo credit:en.wikipedia.org

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a conversation lesson plan to practise past (3rd) conditional structures whilst debating the value of specific professions to society. Credit to the university of Kent for the inspiration for the activity. I have changed the wording of the task slightly so that students must imagine a world without the achievements and inventions of some famous names from history.

You will need the handout, I have made 4 versions:

Intermediate teens:

Balloon Debate intermediate teenagers

Intermediate adults:

Balloon Debate Intermediate adults

Advanced teens:

Balloon Debate Adv teenagers

Advanced adults:

Balloon Debate Adv adults

I planned this as an activity to practise uses of advanced 3rd conditional structures such as:

But for + noun phrase, would/could/might have….

But for Thomas Edison, the lightbulb would have been invented much later.

Or inverted past conditionals:

Had it not been for Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have such a rich vocabulary.

You may want to preteach these structures using my other materials which you can find here and here.

Below you will find they advanced adults version of the activity.

Balloon Debate

You are in a hot air balloon which is losing height rapidly and will soon crash because it is overweight. You are travelling with a group of school children who will grow up to be very famous. You have to decide which 7 to throw over the side; if the balloon crashes you will all die. The passengers are:

  • Mother Teresa
  • Mao Tse-tung
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Mikael Gorbachev
  • Charles Darwin
  • William Shakespeare
  • Diego Maradona
  • Albert Einstein
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Beethoven
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Jane Austen
  • Steve Jobs

 

Language

Conditionals Making Decisions
If_____ hadn’t invented_____, _____ wouldn’t have happened. There’s no way we’re throwing ______ overboard because______
But for ________ we wouldn’t have________. Throwing _______ is out of the question because________
If it hadn’t been for ______, we wouldn’t have _______ now I think ________ is expendable.
Had it not been for _______, we wouldn’t have________. What did _______ really do for us?

Examples:

If Charles Darwin hadn’t discovered evolution, society wouldn’t have developed like it has.

If it hadn’t been for Gandhi, India would still be a British colony.

But for Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have such a rich language.

Had it not been for Abraham Lincoln, the slaves wouldn’t have been freed.

Homework Activity:

Students write an essay examining two of the people from the balloon and deciding which one has contributed most to society. They must compare and contrast the achievements of the two and reach a conclusion as to which should be crowned as the most inspiring person in history.

Posted in Conversation Classes, TED Talk Lesson Plans, Video Classes

TED Talk: Daniel Kish, How I use sonar to navigate the world

Photo credit: http://www.ted.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a conversation lesson plan for higher levels (B2+) based on Daniel Kish’s TED talk “How I use sonar to navigate the world”.

You can either watch the video in class or set it as homework. I have included a copy of the transcript which some students may find useful. You can download the lesson plan below:

TED Talk Daniel Kish Lesson Plan

Daniel Kish TED (transcript)

Introduction Questions

What do you call a person who can’t see?

What would it be like to be blind?

How do you feel when you see a blind person in the street?

Are there any advantages to be being blind?

Think of some things that blind people can and can’t do.

How do blind people navigate the world?

What do you think would be the most difficult thing for a blind person to do?

Show the video.

Discussion Questions

What was your initial reaction to the video?

What did you think when you first saw Daniel?

What did he say about the way in which people treat and react to blind people in society?

What’s his message?

Describe how he navigates the world.

What does he call this system?

Do you think you could use flash sonar?

Do you think you have good eyesight/a good sense of smell etc.?

  • sight/vision
  • smell
  • taste
  • touch
  • hearing

With a partner try to put your senses in order of importance. (This should spark off a lively debate)

Try and come up with a definitive order as a class.

If you had to lose one of your senses, which would you choose and why?

Debate

Divide the class into 5 groups and write the 5 senses on small pieces of paper. Each group picks a piece of paper, they then have to explain why the sense they have picked is the most important. Give them a few minutes to think of some arguments and every day situations to back them up.

Follow up activity

Students write a CAE/CPE report/proposal detailing ways in which a school or public space could be adapted for blind people. Alternatively, you could set an essay based on the TED talk evaluating Daniel Kish’s upbringing compared to more conventional parenting styles for blind/disabled children.