TC Columbia:

Raising the Bar: Introducing Global Issues into EFL Debate Programs

Date: Saturday, September 24th, 2005 Time: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Speaker: Chris Hale and Makoto Fukazawa, Takezono High School, Tsukuba Ibaraki

With the new requirements issued from the Ministry of Education, or Monkasho, to cultivate "students English abilities," teachers in secondary schools are experimenting more with debate activities as means of accomplishing this. Debate is an effective way to foster critical thinking skills in students while at the same time giving them vital opportunities to speak creatively in English. Unfortunately, there is often a tendency by educators to avoid issues of a controversial nature when planning debate projects, opting instead for safe and easily digested topics such as "Using Cell Phones in Schools" or "Reinstating Saturday Classes." While such topics technically allow for creative discussion, how much more meaningful would it be for students to debate Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, or Japan's dependence on nuclear power, or the impending influx of foreign workers into Japan? Debating topics such as these expose students to issues that will equip them with the necessary skills to be informed global citizens.

Global issues have finally taken root in Japanese education, as is evidenced by the increasing number of essays in college-prep texts and side-readers dealing with global, even "controversial", themes. Therefore it should seem rather natural for teachers to incorporate controversy into their debate projects, for in doing so students are not only given the opportunity to contemplate important global issues, but they are also better preparing themselves for an entrance examination apparatus where controversial topics are becoming standard reading fare.

In this workshop the presenters will illustrate progress made so far in their own debate projects since embracing issues that up until only a few years ago were considered too controversial for public school students to discuss. The facilitators will discuss how to set up a debate program, from appropriate topic selection through to assessment, as well as show video of an actual debate taking place in a Japanese senior high school. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a mock debate in order to experience for themselves how exciting and intellectually satisfying debating "controversial" global issues can be. The presenters welcome questions and comments in both Japanese and English.

Organization: Teachers College Columbia University Japan (TC Columbia)

Cost: Free, but reserve by email to

Venue: Teachers College, Columbia University, Tokyo, Mitsui Seimei Bldg 4F, 2-21-2 Misaki-cho, Chiyoda-ku, (03)3221-9771 Website:

Location: Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan


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