Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Fast Debates (Speaker Practice)

We have a lot of speaking practice in my class, some of it is prepared, and some of it isn't so prepared. One of the activities I really like to do I call "fast debates."

They tend to work really well for reinforcing transition words and getting students talking.

You too can use fast debates in your class. Just follow these easy steps.

  1. First, students are given topics (vampires versus werewolves, sunshine vs rain, analog vs digital) it doesn't really matter the more obscure the more fun! (I normally put 15 different topics on the board and tell them to make groups of 4 or 6 people and pick a category. Then they need to split up into two groups).
  2. Students present in two groups (normally of 2-3 people each)
  3. They stand in two lines.
  4. The person in front of the line can say one sentence, then they have to move to the back of the line.
  5. Their sentence can argue on behalf of their team OR refute the other team. It cannot do both.
  6. After they talk the other team gets a turn.

It goes super fast keeps everyone on their toes and tends top be lots of fun! I find this keeps students more involved than a standard debate and since it goes so fast everyone in the class follows along too.

Do you have any alternates to the standard debate? How do your classes like it?


  1. Hi Carissa,

    Have just posted about this as one of TeachingEnglish's favourite current blog posts if you'd like to check there for comments.
    It came very close to winning our September TeachingEnglish blog award so keep up the good work! And please do keeps us updated on the page when you make your next post.


    1. So glad it struck a chord with you! I am pretty inept at using facebook professionally, but maybe I should take the time to learn!

  2. OK--3rd try to post my appreciation for this article. Thanks, Carissa, for sharing. I'm sending it around to others, on your behalf. Having trouble getting this comment to stick, so I'm try anonymous, but I'm not hiding: Peggy at, and something like that. Gracias.

    1. So weird this is the first time I've seen it. I am glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Dear Carissa,

    Could you perhaps create a video of your class attempting this activity so that I might see it in action. My students are older, and despite all attempts I'm having trouble getting them confident enough to try something like this. I feel like I am too little too late.

    1. I'll see if I can manage something. My students aren't very fond of being recorded without preparation, and I never put videos up without permission, so we'll see if I can find a group willing to show off as an example. Another teacher recently pointed out that they like doing this because it helps their students realize where a sentence ends. A lot of our students write loooooooooooooooooooong run on sentences. With this, they have to be short.


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