Classroom Debate Procedures


Once the topic has been chosen and the teams are divided, follow the steps below…

Step I: Have teams research and brainstorm ideas to state and support their team’s position. Tell them to discuss the language to use for their position. Have them make a list of talking points to show the teacher for verification of work and also to offer comments if necessary.

Step II: Have the teams predict what the other side will say to support their respective position. They should make a list of respective positions to give to the teacher.

Step III: Have the teams come up with arguments and questions 質問點 to counter the possible argument of the opposing team’s position and restate their team’s position. Turn in a list for the teacher to check.

Step IV: Have the teams both prepare a concluding statement that is powerful and  re-asserting the team’s position.

Step V: Now that each team is  clear on what their arguments are and their response to opposing arguments, the team should decide which member presents which argument/rebuttal.

Step VI: Actual debate occurs. The presider would need to keep and enforce time use.

You may want to assign a presiding role also, announcing the topic and the beginning, explain the procedure, and call out roles to 正方主辯,反方主辯,正方一辯,提問,反一辯,等。 This is a good role for student whose language skill is not so strong. But the importance of the role may just boost confidence.  If there is an odd number of students in the class, an option is to assign a presiding role to 總結 the debate, this person would have to have good general language skill…

If the class size is large, you can have two people in each of the positions, really large classes can have note taking “audience”, they can be judges, and have a weighty session on the debriefing of the debate, these judges will take turns commenting on the merits of the two opposing teams’ performance, citing evidence of strength and weakness of argument. Debating team members who are not performing should also be listening, and taking notes, so they can prepare questions or pass note to team member who will be making counter argument.

At the on set of the whole activity, you can choose to either give debate languages 語言和辭彙 they would need, or have the students research debate languages, simply by googling 辯論語言,辯論辭彙 so they can incorporate the language in the actual debate session.

I have allocated one whole period for each of the above steps, if they don’t need the whole period, you can do group language training, or give them time to practice their lines.

Submitted by CLTA-WA member Chunman H. Gissing, Chinese Teacher at University Preparatory Academy in Seattle.