When I was in Japan about 10 years ago, I visited an English class where the students were learning English using debating. The teacher had broken up the students into small groups of seven, and everyone was talking at once. The teacher explained to me that the students were engaged in "tennis debates." I've used this exercise on a number of occasions in middle school, high school, and college classes. It works well - the competition element creates interest for students, and you can even "seed" a bracket where students who win their table get to participate in another round against another team. Students that are eliminated from competition seem to really enjoy watching and refereeing subsequent games. I've uploaded an instruction sheet for students here. It is a guide for students participating in the debates, and includes the rules and instructions for referees. Basically, the teacher uses tennis debates either:
- As a review and practice opportunity for work students have been doing already on a given topic, in which case topics are chosen from the students' previous and preparatory work and notes on the issue; or
- As an opportunity to practice impromptu argument, choosing easy and fun topics like "Sega is better than Shakespeare," or "Superman is better than Batman."
- Players must respond within 15 seconds.
- Players must not repeat a point that has already been made without adding anything new.
- Players must use A-R-E to construct their arguments.
- Players must use 4-Step Refutation when answering arguments from the other side.
- A team can only score a point when they have “served” the ball and the other side drops the ball.
- If the team that serves drops the ball, the serve goes to the other side.
- The serve rotates between players. Once you’ve served, the next serve for your team goes to the player on your left.
Labels: debate games