I do a lot of speaking activities with my older students. We do a lot of simulations, discussions, role plays, games, etc. and this ESL debate is one of them.
One of the activities I do is an argumentative debate where they can utilize everything they’ve learned, and another great thing about this activity is that it combines writing and speaking. It can also be used as a warm-up for argumentative essay writing.
You can use your own topics according to the vocabulary you’ve been teaching or you can use the topic cards below.
Each pair of students gets the same topic with either Agree or Disagree information. I usually assign the topics randomly. They’ll have a couple of minutes for preparation, I recommend that they write brief notes and if possible, to do some quick online research. Another modification can be that you give them the topics for homework so they can prepare more thoroughly. It depends on the level of the students and the difficulty of the topics.
When they are ready, let them talk in pairs, circle and monitor. When they finish, have a short feedback discussion with them:
Were they able to persuade their opponent?
What arguments did they use?