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From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.
Last week we learned that a formal debate is when two teams present and argue over a topic in front of a judge. The debate contest traditionally has a structure. The teams agree to a statement to debate, each side arguing for or against it. Professor Charles LeBeau teaches English and debate in Japan. He says people often mistake debate as being mostly a speaking skill. He says a real honest debate is when the people have to understand each other’s position in order to debate each other. Charles LeBeau wrote a book with Michael Lubetsky called, “Discover Debate” to help teachers understand a simpler way to teach debate. The method depends on creating a kind of visual aid known as a graphic organizer. The visual aid reflects the way we talk about critical thinking and developing an argument. Mr. LeBeau says with debate, a student can think about building an argument. An easy way to visualize your argument is to use something called a metaphor and picture your argument as a house. The roof is the opinion that needs to be held up. It is the focus of the discussion or debate. Students then build strong “pillars” or reasons to hold up the roof. Those pillars holding up the roof have to be built on a strong foundation. That is the data, the numbers, or expert opinion backing up your point. Using the house metaphor is something visual that helps a person “see” their argument. They can actually draw the house and it helps students who have not experienced a debate in their own culture. It gives students a way to plan what they will say to support their opinions.