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Ministry of Education.

Irish debate rules

  • Have a debate topic written on the whiteboard. It is useful to choose a topic that will activate prior knowledge about a subject area you may be about to study. Students may also have come up with their own topics in a previous lesson.
  • You will need an equal number of students. If you don’t have an equal number you can use a student to keep score (see below *)
  • Divide the class into two teams (team A and team B.) It is easiest to leave the class sitting where they are and divide the room into two halves.
  • Each team needs to select its own Team Leader. This student will be responsible for choosing who will make the next team contribution. Team members put their hands up to the Team Leader, so (s)he can decide who to choose.
  • Toss a coin to decide which team will have the choice of being either “For” or “Against.” That same team also gets the option of speaking first.
  • The debate starts and each side takes it in turn to make a contribution. It is literally like debate tennis, with sides contributing back and forth.
  • A point is scored each time a contribution is made (noted on the board by the Debate Leader – either the teacher or the extra student *.)
  • Points are deducted for hesitations, repetitions, calling out or distractions to the current speaker of any kind. This is a great classroom management technique as any disturbances result in point deductions. The students learn this very quickly! (The Debate Leader can also add other reasons for point deductions.)
  • The main thing about Irish Debating is that each team member MUST contribute. Failure to do so will mean that that team automatically loses, no matter how well they were doing! This is the hard for some students but it is the responsibility of the Team Leader to include everyone. Hence a good choice of Team Leader is essential.
  • Give the students a practice go with a topic such as:
    “New Zealand should become part of Australia.”

This usually gets a good level of response and will give them a clear idea of how the Irish Debate will work.

You can have as many debates as you like!


Published on: 04 Jan 2011