While in high school, I was on the speech and debate team. I have fond memories. Over the years, as EFL/ESL teacher, I’ve always wanted to introduce my students to some of the debates exercises that I used to practice in high school. I thought they would be a good way to generate conversation, help my students develop good analytical skills and improve their English. With that in mind, I developed a free EFL/ESL conversation activity/game called “Speech and Debate”. It’s proven extremely successful, and it can be used alone or as a reinforcement activity for something being taught from an EFL/ESL coursebook. In “Speech and Debate”, students compare two articles with different views about the same issue and debate which view they agree with.
Step 1: Identify a theme/topic to discuss beforehand. Choose two articles with opposing views about the theme/topic. Each article takes a side on the topic. For example, if the topic were “should drugs be legal,” one article should be for and the other against.
Step 2: Tell the group what the theme/topic is going to be about and that they’re going to take a look at two different articles, but, don’t tell them that the articles have opposing views.
Step 3: Divide the group into two subgroups. Give copies of one article to the first group and copies of the second article to the other group.
Step 4: Let students know that they’re going to debate the topic. Have them read the articles and allow them to consult with their classmates in their subgroup to make sure everything in the article is understood. Give students enough time for this task and walk around the room to answer any questions concerning the article.
Step 5: Once students have finished reading, have a debate. Students must take the side of their article. Encourage students to make references to their articles when appropriate and necessary. Make note of any mistakes and go over them with the group at the end of the discussion, illustrating them on the board if necessary.