By. Dian Savitri, S.Pd.

(The English Teacher of SMPN 5 Cipongkor)

“…debate can enhance the students’ critical thinking since they are going to explore the problem. After having the motion, every team will get to know the issues…”

When we found the word “debate”, most of us think that we should not conduct it. Debate is closed to an activity of showing anger, full of negative emotion between the people who did it. Throw away that kind of definition and let us go to the real meaning of debate. Debate, based on the American debate league website, is an organized argument or contest of ideas in which the participants discuss a topic from two opposing sides. Wikipedia said that debate is the process that involves formal discussion on a particular topic. Now, it is clear that debate is only an activity to discuss certain topics, wherein the term of debate we call it as a motion. Then, we will have two teams, affirmative and opposition team who have three speakers each with 7 minutes maximum to speak. Next, we also have a chairman, the one who opens the debate, keeps order and ensures that the debate is conducted according to the rules. Besides, he shall give procedural guidance and notifies speakers when the time is up.

Do our students practice debate in everyday life? Yes, of course. Actually, they did it when communicating with their friends. They debate the best movie to watch on the weekend or debating who the most handsome senior in their school. As a teacher, we can use this habit to enhance their critical thinking. Ok, you are right. We can conduct a debate in class with interesting motion to emerge students’ curiosity. For example, a motion of video game cause bad behavior, students have to bring a meal to school and a working mom is popular nowadays. It is a simple motion to be debated. But, trust me, when your students sit down in front of the class and start doing debate, they feel nervous. Perhaps, all of their preparation fly away.

Conducting the English debate is more difficult than Bahasa Indonesia. My students, most of them exactly, are sure not be able to speak in English. At first, the writer understands their difficulties. However, to my surprise, some students prepare well for the debate and speak in full English. Here, the writer ignores the grammar because of their attempt to speak in English. While other students speak both in Bahasa Indonesia and English.

The benefit of debate is not only the student’s attempt to use the correct language. The writer says ‘correct’ because it is real that some students still have an inappropriate word to say in Bahasa Indonesia. They seem to feel difficult in showing their arguments and look nervous. Meanwhile, debate can enhance the students’ critical thinking since they are going to explore the problem. After having the motion, every team will get to know the issues. They have to read many articles, news and do an interview to strengthen their arguments. In a debate, we cannot just show our opinion. All of our arguments have to based on reality. Moreover, we can give a real case related to the motion. In my experience, when the students did the debate, some of them give unpredictable argument, and once in a while, make me laugh. When the writer gives a motion wearing a uniform is a must. The opposition team said ‘How if the students have no money to buy? It is impossible to run that kind of rule. We just want to study at school”. How simple their mind is.

Finally, the writer’s not trying to show off my students are. Of course, many of them use Bahasa Indonesia when practicing this debate. In my opinion, giving learning experience is good for them. We all know there is hundreds of learning methods to improve critical thinking, communication, and knowledge. Conducting debate is one of them we can try. Besides practicing English, our students have a chance to build up their self-confidence.

Happy trying.

Edited by: Adhyatnika GU

Dian Savitri, a long life learner and mother of one daughter; work as an English teacher in SMPN 5 Cipongkor since 2017.

Verba volant, scripta manent. A latin proverb I ever use to encourage me in writing. Write whatever you want, as long as it is based on the truth.