Congresos y reuniones científicas
Raising the issue: language development and critical thinking through debating
Córdoba Capital
Conferencia; Professional Development Conference for English Teachers; 2010
Institución organizadora:
Fundación British School-Colegio Mark Twain, e In-English Training and Translation

As a form of oral academic presentations within the Culture of the English-speaking Countries class, debates foster the development of oral academic discourse, and this in turn is an important step in the socialization of students; thus, this last concept should be approached first. The concept of socialization springs from the studies by Duff (1995) and Ochs (1988). Socialization in the present project is approached from the perspective of language and, more specifically, through a speech activity - debating-, Levinson´s (1979) activity types or speech activities become a central concept. When students prepare a debate, they bring into play a number of strategies for interpretation of sources and a number of strategies they will want to use to communicate meaning to their audience. Those strategies are shaped by the purposes students have in mind when they engage in the debate. When the students are aware of and can handle those constraints they are able to put into practice their communicative competence; that is, their knowledge and ability to put language to communicative use (Hymes, 1972, in Pride & Holmes, 1992). In order to match strategies and goals (i.e., in order to integrate preparation of and participation in a debate), students taking part in the speech event need to consult multiple sources, and use an iceberg of public and private meanings (Bates, 1979) to devise various methods of extracting main ideas for interpretation. Two important theoretical consideration spring from Morita (2000) who links language socialization and academic speech events (in this case, debates), and from Hynds (1990, in Pugh, Pawan & Antommarchi, 2000) who believes that the construction of meaning and the establishment of connections when reading depend on interpersonal collaboration (p. 39). In other words, meaning is socially constructed and it is through collaboration with their peers, as well as through individual transaction with multiple texts, that students become creative agents in the building of their own knowledge.