Debate Festival: Building Strong Oratory Skills in QLS Learners
The first QLS Pan-Hellenic Online Debate Festival is now a reality. Primarily as educators, QLS schools are aware of the overwhelming academic research supporting the many benefits that accrue as a result of having learners engage in debate in the classroom. However, having learners compete against their counterparts from QLS schools throughout Greece in formal debates was an idea that started over a year ago with the creation of the QLS Debate Guide for Teachers. Without doubt, this first QLS Online Debate Festival was a unique experience for the learners and an unqualified success for all QLS schools involved. The result: twelve debates at B1, B2 and C1/C2 level, twenty-four teams, seventy-two participants, and hundreds of learners involved in researching and assisting the speakers prepare for or against the motion: “This House Believes Bullies are Victims, too.”
Congratulations to all the participants – the speakers, their support team, their teachers and panel of judges, among them representatives from the three largest publishers in Greece – Express, Burlington and MM.
From this side of the house we contend that everyone involved outdid himself and made QLS proud.
Develop Strong Presentation Skills
An ability to express yourself confidently is a necessity for most professions. Having the ability to communicate with others effectively is extremely important, regardless of the field or industry.
Debate provides experiences that are conducive to life-changing, cognitive, and presentation skills. In addition, debaters acquire unique educational benefits as they learn and polish skills far beyond what can be learnt in any classroom setting. It offers learners the opportunity to not only improve speaking ability, but also develop many of the qualities and skills that build successful speakers, such as the ability to use vocal inflections and intonations to emphasize important points and concepts.
At the very least, debate helps learners see the power of using rational, logical arguments and compelling evidence to persuade the audience. It enables them to clarify their standpoint through utilizing rhetorical eloquence. It instills in debaters a great sense of poise and confidence, enhancing their self-esteem. It teaches them the skills of researching, organizing, and presenting information in a convincing manner.
In general, the benefits of debate include:
- Gaining multi-faceted knowledge that cuts across several disciplines, beyond the acquisition of L2.
- Providing an engaging, active, learner-centered activity.
- Acquiring higher order, critical thinking skills.
- Improving learners’ ability to form balanced, informed arguments and use documented research to support facts.
- Enhancing the ability to structure and organize thoughts through analytical research and note-taking skills.
- Developing effective speech and delivery.
- Encouraging teamwork.
What is more, debate teaches learners to set aside personal bias and to look at topics and resolutions objectively as arguments both for and against are prepared. With this mindset, learners research possible counter-arguments and construct their own counters to those arguments. It is important to have the ability to not only back up opinion with logic, reason, and statistics, but also be able to counter and address opposing views with evidence, not just emotional feelings; something ingrained in learners participating in debate.
Reality dictates that it’s not feasible to prepare for every single possible question. Therefore it is essential to be able to think on the spot and to be mentally agile. Debate allows learners to become more comfortable at “coming up with ideas” on the spot. Regardless of the final outcome, all learners succeed in gaining essential 21st century skills.
As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
QLS Education Team Coordinator