Introduction to formal debate

Welcome to the EMU site on how to use formal debate in the classroom. Here, students and teachers can find instruction, exercises and videos on how to get started with formal debate.

As the contents here are primarily aimed at students and teachers of English, all the material is in English. However, it is also relevant for many other subjects, such as Social Studies or History.

If you are interested in debate as a competitive activity for talented students, you can find information under ‘WSDC’.

A good place to start would be with exercises and turning your attention to what it means to speak persuasively. Then, check out the structure and components of a debate speech, before moving on to the rules for debates and how to best prepare for one. Watch videos before trying out a debate in class, and finally consider the criteria for how to evaluate a debate.

A relevant question to ask here would be why? Why do we want to do debate in the classroom? There are multiple good answers to that, and here are some of the most significant ones.


Students learn how to

  • think critically
  • build up their own argumentation
  • actively use their knowledge
  • discover the many different angles of a subject   
  • speak in a structured and persuasive manner that is also useful for exams and written assignments.
  • be part of a team where you need each other.


Finally, debate will help students get out of their comfort zone, engage with other students, and have fun at the same time!

The students in the videos are all current or former students from Sankt Annæ Gymnasium. Some of them are first year students who just tried debate a few times, and others are second year students who are more experienced.

There are also videos with students who have participated in competitive tournaments, and they will share tips that are relevant for anyone new to debate.

The content on this page is written by Charlotte Ib. I am the project manager of World Schools Debating Championships in Denmark and own the company Do Debate! I am also a teacher of English at Sankt Annæ Gymnasium.

I hope this introduction to debate will inspire many teachers and students to get started with debate in their own classrooms!

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