Features of applying “Debate” technology in the process of studying English at a university

UDC 378.147
Publication date: 20.02.2024
International Journal of Professional Science №2-1-2024

Features of applying “Debate” technology in the process of studying English at a university

Lashina Ekaterina N.,
Senior Lecturer of the Department of Foreign Languages,
St. Petersburg State University of Industrial Technology and Design.
Higher School of Technology and Energy
Abstract: The article discusses the modern educational “Debate” technology, which is successfully used in practical English language classes at a university. This technology can serve as an effective means of both developing foreign language communicative competence and developing in students’ qualities that contribute to effective professional activity in modern society.
Keywords: debate, educational technology, English language, interactive learning, communication, discussion, effectiveness.

The development of professionally important qualities is manifested in the sphere of students’ behavioral activity, therefore the task of shaping the professional behavior of students within the walls of higher education is one of the paramount ones.

An important condition for the effectiveness of the formation of professional behavior of students is the actualization of the professional and socializing potential of the content of educational subjects, associated with the identification of the dialogic context of the studied disciplines and the use of interactive methods of organizing the educational process, which assume the priority of situationally effective, active behavioral forms and methods of teaching (dispute, dialogue, debates, role-playing games, training).

When teaching a foreign language at a university, it is advisable to use various technologies that implement the principles of interactive learning. One of the most effective modern technologies that simulate real communication is the “Debate” technology, developed on the basis of the International “Debate” program, which includes three areas:

–  a game in which two teams participate, defending opposing points of view;

–  a public youth association that creates clubs to discuss current issues of our time;

–  educational technology, the fundamental difference of which is the focus not on knowledge, but on students acquiring positive experience of independent work [1].

This technology implements the principles of activity, problem-solving, joint activity, and independence. With the appropriate target setting, the use of interactive “Debate” technology will contribute to the development of students’ communicative culture at the personal and professional levels, since the above principles contribute to the development of skills to predict the behavior of a speech partner, assess the communication situation, regulate one’s own behavior, and get acquainted with the forms of future professional activity [2] .

The educational “Debate” technology has proven itself well in conducting practical classes in the English language. The debate method is universal in nature, as it can be filled with any content and used in the study of any subject, including a foreign language, since it is one of the ways to develop foreign language communicative competence on the one hand, and social interaction skills on the other [3].

Debates are a formalized discussion built on the basis of pre-prepared speeches by participants – representatives of two opposing, rival teams: the affirmation team and the denial team. Each team usually consists of 4-5 student speakers. During the game, speakers take turns making speeches to demonstrate to the jury that their team’s position is more convincing than that of their opponents. Debate participants put forward their arguments and counterarguments about the proposed thesis in order to convince the jury members of their correctness and experience in rhetoric. Along with their arguments, debaters must present to the jury evidence, facts, quotes, and statistics that support their position. Debate participants ask questions of the opposing side and answer questions from their opponents; questions can be used to clarify opponents’ positions and to identify mistakes in the opponent. In addition to the speakers’ speeches, the game provides rounds of cross-questions, when the speaking participant in the debate is asked questions to clarify some points of the speech or to belittle the argumentation given [4].

The purpose of this technology is the most complete comprehensive study of any topic, the development of critical thinking. Debates form students’ basic language communicative skills – the skills of public speaking and discussion, as well as listening, reading, speaking and writing. Immediately before the implementation, serious preliminary preparation of students is needed. At the preparation stage, speakers and a support group analyze the literature, prepare supporting notes, annotations, theses, notes, collections of quotes, and briefly record the structure of speech, which develops reading and writing. During debates, listening and speaking skills are improved, and rounds of cross-questions allow you to include not only speakers, but the entire group in this process. They teach to be tolerant of other people’s views on a problem. Since the participants in the dispute convince not each other, but the third party and defend the point of view that fell to them by lot, this allows them to maintain a respectful attitude towards their opponents. The use of debates in the educational process helps to create sustainable motivation for learning, since it ensures the personal significance of educational material for students, and the presence of an element of competition stimulates creative, search activity, and thorough processing of the studied material.

The effectiveness of using debates in teaching English largely depends on the teacher’s awareness of the possibility and appropriateness of their use:

– when studying a particular topic, not every topic can be the subject of discussion; it must be correctly formulated by the teacher;

– in a particular study group – the success of debates largely depends on the friendly, creative atmosphere in the classroom; the teacher should adequately assess the degree of preparedness of students required to conduct different types of debates;

– debates can be used to summarize, systematize, control knowledge, and consolidate educational material;

– for the implementation of the set educational goals – the successful implementation of the set goals, achieved through debates, is determined by the teacher’s ability to create conditions for effective interaction in the classroom; establishing trusting relationships with students, a clear definition of the topic and scope of the material being discussed, the ability of the teacher and students to organize business communication.

Debates can also be divided into several types.

  1. Issue debates. Provides familiarization of participants with general concepts. There may be few problematic debates – only on the main, key, debatable issues.
  2. Express debates on mini-problems. Orientation and preparation steps are kept to a minimum. Preparation is carried out directly in class. This type of debate can be used as an element of “feedback”, consolidation of educational material, or as a form of activation of cognitive activity.
  3. Debates as a form of independent work with texts. A form of presentation and comprehension of the results of students’ work with educational and scientific literature.
  4. Debate as a means of formalizing discussion. When studying certain topics, students are often faced with controversial issues that affect them so deeply that they cannot be the subject of rational discussion. The means to overcome this difficulty is to formalize the discussion, that is, to move it into the mainstream of debate.
  5. Repetition and generalization classes can be organized in the form of debates. At the same time, students acquire additional skills, rather than new knowledge: debates take place on the basis of the main content of the educational material.

When conducting debates, the following basic principles must be observed:

– respect for opponents – it is necessary to attack their arguments, reasoning and evidence, and not the opponents themselves.

– honesty – in the round of cross-questions, your answers must be objective and reasoned;

– there are no losers [5].

In the process of teaching English, this technology allows you to solve several educational problems, namely:

–  actualize the professional and personal potential of students;

–  contribute to the formation of professionally important qualities of students: responsibility, self-confidence, sociability, initiative, independence, leadership qualities, tact, tolerance, perseverance, determination, etc.;

–  promote the development of communication skills: listen and hear the interlocutor, be tolerant of different views, other points of view;

–  promote the development of organizational skills: creating working groups and establishing contact between participants, identifying the most important aspects and developing a common opinion, distributing responsibilities, organizing practical actions, coordinating the sequence of actions of participants, determining the final goal, evaluating what has been done;

– promote the development of intellectual abilities: think critically, establish logical connections between phenomena, build a chain of evidence, draw reasonable conclusions;

–  develop creative qualities and abilities: take a fresh look at the problem, use unconventional ways to solve it, think flexibly and productively, quickly respond to changing circumstances;

–  develop oratorical abilities: public speaking skills, the ability to clearly express one’s thoughts orally and in writing, observe the time limit for speaking and solve a problem under time limits, attract listeners with intonation, gestures, facial expressions;

– teach students self-presentation skills [6].

The use of debates in the process of studying English in higher education is of great importance for the formation of the professional behavior of a future specialist, since this technology is the basis for the formation of the most important qualities necessary for a modern specialist: the ability to make professional social choices and bear responsibility for them, as well as the ability to defend your position on any issue.


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