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[Tips] How to practice debating if you are living on a rural island like me

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Attending a school located in a remote rural island, I do not have any debate academies or hagwons that I can attend. Still, geography could not put down my passion for debating, and I devised my own ways of practising debate.

In fact, I developed these ways during this year's summer break, since I desperately wanted to the finals of this year's YTN Debating Championship, which is Korea's biggest debating tournament. This year's summer YTNDC was my last chance to debate in a middle school division, and it was my goal to make it to the finals. If one makes it to the finals of YTNDC, not only does it prove one's ability, but also one gets interviewed in the YTN news, which is also one of the biggest news companies in Korea. So in many respects, winning YTNDC would be like winning the NBA or NFL to a Korean debater.

I wanted to share some things that I did, so other people who are in similar situations could get advice from my blog. These are what I did:

1. Download debate videos, and listen to them whenever I have time. I bought a Google Drive to store these videos, and I have around 120 videos downloaded in my drive. I listened to these while I am walking, eating, taking a shower, and even sleeping. At first, I doubted if this would help, but this unconsciously and slowly changed my rhetoric and speech style for the better. After a few months, I could easily notice that I had become much more proficient in articulating my ideas.

2. Shadow speaking. I am not sure this is an actual word in English, but saying these speeches out loud also massively helped.

3. Debate against videos. The greatest difficulty of practising by myself is that it is hard to find an opponent. But search WSDC videos online--and there you have this generation's best debaters. You can debate against the debaters in the videos, thinking that you are in that debating chamber. Then, compare your speech with that of the next speaker in the video. If you think that they are making incisive rebuttals or analysis, steal them into your speech! But if you think that you also have a good point, integrate them with the points that you've stolen.

4. Reading a LOT. It doesn't matter what you read--anything is fine. But always link them back to debate, and think about what you are reading. For instance, if you are reading a newspaper article about changes in the tech industry, think about who it might affect, how it might affect them if the change would be favourable, if not, whether the government should intervene, and so on. Even if you're reading a novel, think about the social implications of it. When you're reading Wicked by Gregory Macguire, think about the application of this story in real life. Ask yourself if such sequels of children's stories are beneficial. Wicked vehemently opposes the dichotomy between good and evil. Ask yourself if this is a good thing.


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