What is a Debate?


A debate is a formal contest in which two teams present opposing arguments on a controversial topic. The goal of each team is to convince the audience of its point of view and win the argument. A debate requires quick thinking, precise language, and attentive listening. It differs from a discussion because it has a formal, timed structure.


What is the Format of a Debate?


In a debate there are two teams. One team presents arguments in favour of the topic (the Pro Team); the other team presents arguments in opposition to the topic (the Con Team). There are two parts to the debate that are prepared: the Introductory and Concluding statements; a third part, the question and answer period, is spontaneous.


How Is a Debate Prepared?


∑ Choose a team leader

∑ Hold a discussion on your teamís position, which the team leader will guide. Your team must identify the major arguments in support of its position.

∑ Using the arguments generated by discussion, your team should prepare a four-minute introductory statement that presents its position. Use the Model Worksheet.

∑Discuss the objections the opposing team will probably bring against your arguments and how you will respond to these objections.

∑ Practice your debate. Team members take turns asking the questions they think the opposing team will ask. Every team member should have the opportunity to ask and answer one question.


Guidelines for the Debate


Time limits for each part will be strictly enforced.

No interruptions are permitted during any part of the debate.

Each member of the Pro Team presents a point in the teamís introductory statement. Four Minutes per member.

Once the Pro Team has finished, the Con Team asks questions about statements or claims in the Pro-Teamís introductory statement. These questions should be directed at any weaknesses in the introductory statement. Any member of the pro team may answer a question. Four minutes.

The procedure is repeated with the Con Team: Introductory statement - Four minutes; Question and Answer period - Four minutes.

There is a five-minute break during which each team prepares its Concluding statement, which should summarize the teamís strongest arguments.

The Con Team presents its Concluding statement. Two minutes.

The Pro Team closes the debate with its Concluding statement. Two minutes.

The audience completes the Score-sheet (refer to model).


Model of Worksheet




Position (check one) Pro______ Con ______


I. Introductory Statement (your teamís major arguments)














II. List the questions the opposing team will ask, and your answers to these questions.





Names of "Pro" team and "Con" team members:

Thesis statement of team:




Speech is accurate (factual)?††††††††† /1

Points are relevant?††††††††† /1

Exposť is well-balanced: comprehensive and comprehensible?††† /1

Respects time limit?††††††††† /1

Brushed teeth before class? /1





Restates the topic intelligibly?††††††††† /1

Gives outline of argument (reasons + conclusions + diagram of their relationship)?††††††† /2

Relates general team position to specific argument?††††††††† /1



Defines terms of argument / sticks to agreed definitions?††††††††† /1

Relates the main points of at least some of the other arguments to the one at hand? ††††††††† /1

Relates data and ideas logically?††††††††† /1

Supplies adequate and relevant information?††††††††† /1

Demonstrates appropriate knowledge of subject?††††††††† /1

Asks a penetrating question? ††††††††† /1

Gives useful, pertinent, straightforward, reasonable answers to on-the-spot questions? /1





adequate††††††††† /1

idiomatic††††††††† /1



appropriate conjugations††††††††† ††††††††† /1

complete complex constructions††††††† /1











TOTAL: /20 points = /5%