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ESL Debate Vocabulary

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Debate can be both exhilarating and informative, especially for ESL (English as a Second Language) students. This lesson provides teachers with debate vocabulary and instruction ideas specifically designed for an ESL environment.

Debate in the Classroom

As students gain confidence in their English speaking abilities, it becomes increasingly important to provide them with different opportunities to use language. Debate is an ideal way for your ESL (English as a Second Language) leaners to use what they already know of English and to expand both their vocabularies and critical thinking skills.

It's important to note that this lesson is primarily focused on debate vocabulary rather than on the rules of debate or how debates should be conducted. When you share the following vocabulary and definitions with the class, be sure to model correct pronunciation and provide examples. You can also encourage students to provide their own examples of vocabulary use.

Because your learners are employing English as a second language, don't overwhelm them with too many terms or definitions. Instead, try to focus on the primary terms and phrases students are most likely to encounter.

Debate Vocabulary Definitions

  1. Debater - A person who argues in a debate.
  2. Resolution - The resolution is the issue being debated and it is a statement. Examples: ''The driving age should be 21.'' or ''All drugs should be legal.''
  3. Affirmative - The affirmative side argues in favor of the resolution.
  4. Negative - The negative side argues against the resolution.
  5. Case (also called Constructive) - The case (constructive) is all of the reasons, arguments, facts, and other evidence the affirmative or negative side uses to support their view of the resolution.
  6. Cross-examination - In a cross-examination, debaters can ask each other questions.
  7. Rebuttal - A rebuttal is a contrary argument that one debater makes to another.
  8. Fallacy - A fallacy is an argument that is based on incorrect or unreliable evidence or information.
  9. Evidence (also called Card) - Evidence (card) is material from a reliable source that debaters use to support an argument.
  10. Definition - A definition is a generally accepted explanation of a term or concept.

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