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Langues - AN021 : ENSTA Competitive Debating

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Competitive debating is a characteristic feature of higher education in English-speaking countries, where students develop their critical thinking, persuasive, and public speaking skills in university debating societies such as the famous Oxford Union. Today, organised competitive debating is popular in universities around the world, and increasingly in France, where the French Debating Association organises a prestigious tournament for Grandes Écoles and universities. 


In this class, students working in teams will prepare and deliver speeches proposing or opposing a controversial proposition (a "motion") which they’ve researched in advance or discovered on the day of the class. The motion may be on a topical issue, or some more philosophical question, and may be deadly serious or wacky and light-hearted. With each successive class, students will sharpen the spontaneity and persuasive force of their spoken discourse, gaining confidence speaking in public. The research they undertake will help them broaden their lexical resources. Students will receive guidance in rhetoric and argumentation, and intermittently take part in other communicative activities. They will also hopefully enjoy themselves. 


The first semester's classes will introduce students to the basic principles of debating, and its different formats. The skills acquired will be developed in the second semester, with more challenging subjects (including topics suggested by students themselves) and a higher level of performance expected ... and achieved.

Objectifs pédagogiques

By the end of the semester, you will have:

  • Gained experience of speaking in public with confidence, assurance, and pleasure.
  • Practised producing structured, persuasive speeches, identifying strong and weak
  • Made use of different modes of persuasion (logos, ethos, pathos), employing public speaking techniques such as voice projection, eye contact, and body language. 

10.5 heures en présentiel (7 blocs ou créneaux)
réparties en:
  • Cours de Langues : 10.5

effectifs minimal / maximal:


Diplôme(s) concerné(s)

UE de rattachement

Niveaux requis

  • Anglais : C1
  • Anglais : C1.1
  • Anglais : C1.2
  • Anglais : C2
  • Anglais : C2.1
  • Anglais : C2.2

Format des notes

Numérique sur 20

Pour les étudiants du diplôme Master 1 Parisien de Recherche Opérationnelle

Le coefficient de l'UE est : 1

Pour les étudiants du diplôme Diplôme d'Ingénieur de l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées

Le rattrapage est autorisé (Max entre les deux notes écrêté à une note seuil)
  • le rattrapage est obligatoire si :
    Note initiale < 6
  • le rattrapage peut être demandé par l'étudiant si :
    6 ≤ note initiale < 10

Le coefficient de l'UE est : 1

L'UE est évaluée par les étudiants.

Programme détaillé

Skills focus

This class will principally focus on oral skills - both speaking and listening, as one cannot reply convincingly to one's interlocutor or opponent without listening carefully to what they have said. Reading skills will be practised during preparatory research and writing skills in the preparation of speeches. 


Classes will normally consist in a single debate, with students grouped into teams of between 2 and 5 members, each giving a speech. Time will be allotted at the beginning for students debating that week (around half the class) to prepare their speeches, and for the others - who will be the judges - to discuss the issues and anticipate the arguments they expect to hear. At the end they will provide a judgement of the debate and pronounce the winners. Homework will principally consist in the research to be carried out in preparation for each debate. 


Assessment will be continuous, evaluating students' progress in the various objectives indicated above. Specific debates at the end of each semester will enable students to demonstrate their progress and will carry a greater weight in the overall grade. 

Mots clés

Persuasion, analysis, argumentation, performance, structure, spontaneity
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