Renmin University of China

    The Syllabus for Experimental Debate

    Offered by School of Foreign Languages


    Part I Course Information

    Course code:21005781

    Course type: Compulsory

    Prerequisite for taking this course: RUC College English Band 4

    Course period: One semester

    Credits: 2

    Instructor: both Chinese and Foreign Teachers

    Textbook: Rybold, G. (2010). Debating in English: A Critical Thinking Approach to Effective Speaking. Beijing: Foreign Language Research and Teaching Press

    Reference books: Johnson, S.L. (2010). Winning Debates.Beijing: Foreign Language Research and Teaching Press


    Part II Course Objectives and Teaching Contents

    1.       To improve your practical debate skills to sound more experienced and polished. These skills are not complex, but can make a speech stronger:

    a.       Listening and taking notes on a flow sheet

    b.       Greeting the judge, audience, and competitors

    c.       Using smooth and suitable transitions

    d.       Forming strong rebuttals when finishing a debate

    2.       To improve your ability to think critically and to apply the skills of critical thinking to analyze opponent’s speeches. These skills are high-level thinking skills and require practice, experience, and quickly processed logic:

    a.       Practicing forming logical and convincing arguments

    b.       Learning how to refute an argument

    c.       Answering with a rejoinder

    d.       Identifying fallacies and revealing their error in reasoning

    e.       gauging the credibility of sources and the reliability of claims in opposing arguments

    f.        judging the soundness of evidence and assessing the validity of reasoning in opposing arguments

    3.       To improve your ability to utilize research skills and strategies. This will engage you in the following activities:

    a.       developing skills of information acquisition, including conducting Internet and library research, creating a bibliography, and taking research notes efficiently

    b.       thinking critically and creatively about materials acquired from print and electronic sources

    4.       To understand the roles and important terms used in debates. These terms are vital for understanding the rules and procedures for debates:

    a.       Point of Order

    b.       Point of Information

    c.       Manner/Matter

    d.       Judge

    e.       Proposition/Opposition

    f.        Motion or ground

    g.       Constructive

    5.       To know the different debate formats and the uniqueness of each one:

    a.       British Parliamentary (8 participants)

    b.       American Parliamentary (4 participants)

    c.       All-Asian debate (6 participants)

    d.       Cross-examination (4 participants)


    Part III Teaching Methods

    This is a student-centered and skill-oriented course. Students will learn the fundamental skills of debate such as writing an effective constructive, forming logical arguments, taking notes, doing research, speaking with conviction and persuasion, locating fallacies, and refuting opponents. Students will practice debating both sides and will debate simplistic topics at the beginning in order to gain knowledge of the order of debate. Students will work with a partner and develop collaborative skills. Students will observe and analyze other debaters for personal growth. Students are expected to debate in class in front of an audience of their peers. They will prepare, practice, and debate in English only.


    Part IV Teaching Schedule



    Contents and Class Activities



    Debate Casual Topics; Intro to Debate; Watch parts of a debate


    Ch. 4 and 5

    Body Control, Vocal Variety and Impromptu


    Ch. 1 and 2

    Look at the different types of debates, Watch parts of a debate


    Ch.  6 and 2 (again)

    Flowing and Taking notes


    Ch. 3 and 8

    Practice Debating


    Ch. 9 and 10

    Critical Thinking and Research


    Ch. 7 and 11

    Casea and counter-case development



    British Parliamentary Debate



    British Parliamentary Debate (contests between classes)


    May Day Holiday


    Ch. 12 and 13

    Motions, Refutation, and Rejoinder



    Cross-Examination Debate



    Cross-Examination Debate



    Review and prepare for the AP debate



    All-Asian Debate



    All-Asian Debate


    Part V Debate Assignments

    1.       British Parliamentary Debate

    In British Parliamentary Debate consists of eight debaters. Four teams compete at the same time with paired teams on each side. Each speaker gets one opportunity to speak in favor of his side. In this debate style, it’s important to make arguments that support your assigned position, but at the same time, you are competing against a team that supports your view. You will only have a few moments before the debate to write your arguments and plan your strategy with your partner. While other debaters speak you can challenge opponents by asking for a point of information. This debate is evaluated in two categories: matter and manner. The team with the most points wins the debate.

    2.       Cross-Examination Debate

    Cross-Examination Debate consists of four debaters, two paired teams. Cross-examination topics are decided in advance, so debates must do extensive research in order to prepare their case arguments and their potential counter-case arguments. This type of debate does not have a Point of Information. Instead, it uses a cross-examination period after each constructive speech. This type of debate assesses the debaters question and answer skills.

    3.       All-Asian Debate

    All-Asian debate consists of six debaters, two teams of three. The rules of this debate are similar to the British Parliamentary Debate in that Points of Information are allowed and each team is awarded a certain number of points at the end of the completion. It is different in that it is evaluated. In All-Asian debate, there is a third category, method, which evaluates the organization of the speeches. This category only carries 20% of the total score, but it is different than other debate formats because of this.


    Part VI Academic Integrity

    Plagiarism or other forms of cheating on exams and/or other class assignments will result in a failing grade on the assignment in question and may lead to failure in the course or other penalties.

    Cheating is violating the rules of the course. This includes copying others’ work, giving others your work to use as their own, using notes on an in-class test, looking at others’ work when you are instructed to work alone, and breaking other rules, written or announced, that are part of class policy.

    Plagiarizing is representing written work as your own when you are not the original source. This includes failing to cite references, failing to set others’ work in quotation marks, and paraphrasing insufficiently even if you do give credit to someone else. This also applies to spoken work.

    Debates are to be performed on the assigned dates. There will be no late debates. Late debates will be at the discretion of the teacher, and the final grades of late debates could be deducted. 


    Part VII Assessment and Grading

    1.       Daily Performance (Attendance, quizzes, assignments) 25%

    2.       British Parliamentary Debate 25% 

    3.       Cross-Examination Debate 25%

    4.       All-Asian Debate 25%


    Reference Books

    1.       Carnegie, D. (2009). How to Develop Self-Confidence & Influence People by Public Speaking. Beijing: Central Compilation & Translation Press.

    2.       Carnegie, D. (2011). The Quick & Easy Way to Effective Speaking. Beijing: Central Compilation & Translation Press.

    3.       Marrs, C. (1992). The Complete Book of Speech Communication. Colorado Springs: Meriwether Publishing.

    4.       Mcinemy, D.Q. (2004). Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking. New York: Random House Publishing.

    5.       博学英语 - 英语演讲与辩论:辩论篇》,孙利民,高瑛主编, 上海:复旦出版社,2007.