Learning English: Dynamic Debates

by Thomas C. Anderson

Learning English -- Debate Contract See page one of this article

This document is given to each group at the beginning of the preparation section. It specifies roles of the members and duties of the leader and assistant leader of the group. In addition to this, it lists steps to be taken in preparing for the debate. It also contains information about the textbook quiz (one before each debate) they will do in addition to it.

(Pictured: The Kari River in Kanagawa)

My Role

I make it clear from the start (and occasionally remind students) that it is up to the group leader and/or assistant leader to make sure that all members have tasks and are doing them. I make it clear that I am a resource person, not a police officer. During the actual debate I am the timekeeper as well as one of the evaluators.

Debate Format

I’ve tried various formats but the one I’m currently using is as follows: affirmative team opener (5 min.), negative team opener (5 min.), prep. time for rebuttal (5 minutes), negative team rebuttal (3 minutes), affirmative team rebuttal ( 3 minutes), prep. time for closing arguments (3 minutes), affirmative team closing arguments (3 minutes), negative team closing arguments (3 minutes).


Student groups who are not debating serve as judges for the debates. Each group has an evaluation form which has four items: team performance, content, overall grade, and winner/loser of the debate. The debating groups also evaluate themselves. I do an evaluation myself and average all evaluations.

From Learning English to page three of this article.

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