Authors: Kikelomo Adeniyi, Chinyere Chuku & Helen Matthias (Nigeria) | Uploaded on 1 August 2022


Read what a teacher says about this activity: 

A debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic in which opposing views are stated. Debates improve critical thinking and enhance collaboration

Stage 1: The topic

Select a topic relevant to learners and express it as a provocative statement – e.g. Girls are better than boys.

Group the students – one group to speak for and the other to speak against.

Stage 2: Preparation 

Both groups should:

  • BRAINSTORM ideas for or against the statement.
  • Discuss the ideas, plan the speech for or against. They should think about:

- how to begin (introduction)

- putting their ideas in the best order

- how to finish (conclusion)

- ideas they think the other side will have  

  • Choose a chief speaker, supporting speaker, secretary, timekeeper 

Stage 3: Practice 

Practise the presentation in each group.

Teacher moves between the groups and gives necessary support. 

Stage 4: The debate

Teacher should act as chairperson to manage the debate.

Speeches should follow this sequence: 

Chief speaker for => Chief speaker against => Supporting speaker for => Supporting speaker against

Speakers from both groups should stick to strict time limits.

After the chief speakers and supporting speakers have made their speeches, other members of both the class can make further points for or against.

The whole class should vote. Voting should be based on the quality of the speeches they have heard, which may have changed their ideas.

Speakers should be graded on:

Use of language, use of non-verbal language, organisation of ideas. 

Award prizes (e.g. badge, star decoration) to the best speaker and group and consolation prizes to the others.


  • When students are familiar with the activity, they might be invited to select the topics for debate themselves
  • With advanced classes, a stronger student could act as chairperson to manage the debate. 


Critical thinking: analysing available facts and arguments to make a decision

Collaboration: working together on a task or project

Non-verbal language: Also known as body language, e.g. a nod, a smile etc