Adapting Debate to the Needs of the Lower-Level SL Classroom
Debate encourages intellectual, academic, linguistic, and social growth. Though engaging advanced SL (second language) students in this activity may seem easier, with appropriate guidance and realistic expectations, lower-level SL students can benefit from debate, too. This workshop introduces a debate methodology adapted to the needs of lower-level SL students. Participants are encouraged to contribute ideas and to later adapt this experience to their own objectives and circumstances and should appreciate better the pedagogical potential of debate.
Research affirms that debate can have an effect on thinking, speaking, and even writing skills. When engaged in this activity, all students, including those in the SL classroom, can learn about important issues and improve their ability to do research, think critically, speak logically, use language, and cooperate with others. However, debate activities need not be restricted to advanced SL students. With careful scaffolding and realistic expectations, instructors who would add content and activity variety to the classroom can engage even lower-level SL students in debate, encouraging initial levels of idea sharing and questioning about different topics. As we will see, among other things, simplified debate terminology and propositions can be used, essential vocabulary can be pre-taught, and judging criteria can be adjusted to student needs. Also, students can be required to type out their arguments and even refutations, reading these to their opponents and submitting them to the teacher before and immediately after debates. Thus, in this interactive workshop, a methodology is presented for introducing simplified English debates to the lower-level SL classroom. After brief discussion of the reasons for doing debate and of issues affecting performance of this activity, participants will be led, step-by-step, through a debate as it could be introduced in a SL class. We will then look at ways to conduct subsequent debates for which students can prepare. Handouts will be provided offering sample debate time frames, judging criteria, and score-keeping charts. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and share their opinions and experiences during and after the workshop so that we can all learn more about this activity. It is hoped that participants will appreciate the pedagogical potential of debate and return to their classrooms with ideas that they can adapt to their own professional objectives and circumstances.
Harry Harris has an M.A. in Spanish linguistics and one in Applied Linguistics. He has taught English and Spanish at academic institutions in Japan, the U.S., and Bolivia. At present, he is involved in curriculum development in the new English Program at Hakuoh University, for which he has collaborated on writing skill objectives and organized the Writing component. He also participates in teacher training workshops in Japan and writes materials for a Japanese publishing company.
I report my small project to elicit students stories in English. The project is designed in response to their desire to use their English. For two years I have detected the covert desire my students have across levels of English proficiency. Why telling stories or narrative? In mind, our experiences are stored random. Once we try to tell experiences to someone, the random experiences preserved in mind become coherent in narrative. This human action or telling stories has begun before history. It is ubiquitous everywhere. I expect that narrative would prompt students more easily to produce their English than other genre of production. The students major in fashion in a four-year college in Tokyo. Most of them believe that English was their weakest subject in their secondary school education, but they choose it rather than French and Chinese. In this
presentation I report my first stage of the project. The second-year students, who were grouped in the lowest level, were engaged in self-introduction in writing and speaking. The first-year students wrote their English-learning experiences. To have them immerse in narrative, they watched and listened to the TV drama Charo 2 for ten minutes every class, and did some exercises. To organize thought in narrative, they first wrote it in Japanese and consulted the product with me, then wrote it in English and had my consultation, and the last trained themselves by paying attention to clearness, loudness, eye contact, and posture.
Tazuru Wada is a retired tenured high school teacher, currently teaching part time in Sugino Fashion College in Meguro, Tokyo. I earned the MA in TESOL in Columbia University Teachers College on Japan Campus. I have enrolled in the doctoral program in education in Temple University, Japan Campus for seven years, working on a doctoral dissertation. My research interest is in professional identity, especially L2 teacher identity evolution as well as narrative inquiry as a research method.