What is debating?

Debate is a competitive sport where participants engage in rigorous discourse to find the best possible solutions to a given problem. The proposition and opposition teams clash throughout a debate, engaging in logical reasoning, rhetorical persuasion and constructive criticism, with the end goal of advocating for a particular stance given by the motion.

What’s the difference between public speaking and debating?

The largest difference between the two activities is the need for debaters to defend their arguments in a logical and persuasive fashion against opponents eager to challenge them at every opportunity. Debating also often requires students to defend stances antithetical to their own personal beliefs, providing them with an appreciation and respect for differing perspectives and points of view.

What is the training like?

Our training is based on a curriculum we have developed over the last 10 years of coaching competitive debaters. There will be a series of lectures, drills, exercises and worksheets to help you master the fundamentals of debating. There will also be practice debates to help you internalize our lessons and put your newly developed skills into action.

Is the training difficult?

Most people find debating a difficult and daunting activity because they are thrown into a full debate and expected to sink or swim. We utilise an exclusive curriculum to help break down the complex activity of debating into smaller, more manageable parts that you can learn and master through our series of lectures and drills.

What if a student has a fear of speaking?

Surveys consistently show that most people fear public speaking more than death. A fear of public speaking is perfectly normal, it is also something that can be easily overcome in the safe and nurturing environment that we provide.

Will there be immediate results?

Debate is an activity which requires a variety of skill sets. We have broken them down into smaller, more manageable parts so we can focus on each individual subset of skills in each lesson. There is no magical pill to make you a better debater overnight, but our 12 week program will provide you with an in-depth understanding of the fundamental concepts that will make you a competent debater.

Are there any real world applications of the debate skills learnt in class?

Debating teaches students to be fluent and persuasive speakers and equips them with actual knowledge of real world issues. The variety of topics students will encounter helps them gain an in-depth understanding of laws, systems of morality and social norms. Students will be forced to think on their feet in high-pressure situations which will prepare them for higher education and working life. For more details, click here.

There are so many programs claiming to teach critical thinking. How is yours any different?

Debate is an activity where students are constantly forced to contend with an innumerable amount of issues. Legislation, moral systems, and individual value judgements are dissected and reassembled, from multiple distinct viewpoints. Debating requires students to engage in sound argumentation, criticism and effective communication all at once, with the pressure of limited time and our classes enable you not just to think critically, but to put those thoughts into action in a competitive arena. For more details, click here.

Will debate distract from academic pursuits?

Debate like any other co-curricular activity, should not be a distraction from academic pursuits. In fact, debate training involves speech practice, critical thinking, argumentation and learning more about current affairs which will help with English, General Paper, Essay Writing, Oral / Project Presentations and all Humanities subjects.

Will debating help proficiency in English?

While our classes are focused on helping you become a better debater, you will also find your English proficiency improving as a result of being immersed in an English speaking environment. The best way to master a language is to practice speaking, reading and writing in that language, which you will be engaging in during our classes. Learning how to debate will also expand your vocabulary as you pick up new words and concepts that are used regularly in debate speeches and arguments.

Can you be too soft spoken to debate? Aren’t all debaters aggressive?

There are a variety of different debating styles that are all equally effective. Debate is an exercise in persuasion and being aggressive is not necessarily persuasive. Our classes will help anyone speak more confidently by providing ample opportunities to practice. Our curriculum is designed to help every student, regardless of background and experience, master the fundamentals of debate.

What about speech impediments i.e., stutter or lisp. Will that affect performance?

As long as you can be understood by others, any speech defect will not hamper your ability to debate. Our training will also help you manage your stutter or lisp so that you can be better understood, not just in debates, but also in your daily life.

What’s the difference between this class and debate coaching in school?

School debate teams usually have a high student to coach ratio. Consequently, coaches are forced to use the limited funding and training hours to prepare only the best students for national competitions, neglecting new and less experienced students in the process. This class fills in the gaps by utilizing a curriculum aimed at effectively imparting skills and knowledge to every student. For more details, read our blog post here.

The current time slots are inconvenient. Are there other options available?

For now we have a limited capacity so there will be no other options available. We will be looking to expand our range of time slots in the near future.

Is there anything specific to bring to class?

A notebook and writing implements are all that is needed.

Are there training materials/notes provided?

Yes. There will be worksheets and lecture notes provided.

What’s the teacher to student ratio?

Each class will have a single teacher with 6-10 students.

Why are the sessions 3 hours long? Can they be any shorter?

A typical debate lasts around 1 and a half hours, not including preparation time. Our lesson structure includes a 1 hour lecture followed by practice sessions and extensive feedback. In our experiences coaching, we've found that a minimum of 3 hours per session works best.

What if a session is missed? Are there make up sessions available?

We can arrange for alternative sessions depending on the circumstances.

Why is the first program only 12-weeks?

Through our testing, we’ve found that this is the optimal time frame to equip you a good foundation and to show results, while also allowing participants to evaluate the utility of the program and whether to continue debating.

What happens after 12 weeks?

There will be new programs launched that you can sign up for. Keep a lookout for the announcements.

What happens in a diagnostic session?

We will run you through a couple of exercises that we use. Then we can highlight strengths and weaknesses and provide recommendations on what you can do to improve. Should you decide to sign up for our program, this session will allow us to adapt our lectures and exercises to suit your individual needs.

How long is the diagnostic?

30 minutes.

Will there be any pressure to sign up for a class after the session?

Not at all. The diagnostic session should serve to help you identify the kinks and flaws in your debate speeches that you can improve on. We would much rather demonstrate our coaching ability through the session rather than rely on a sales pitch.

Do you offer personal training?

Yes we do offer personalized training both as a stand-alone arrangement as well as to complement our class trainings. Refer to this page for more details.

Are there any hidden costs?

None at all.

Where can I apply for financial aid?

Drop us an email at fas@therhetoriccollective.com and we can discuss what options are available for your circumstances.

What if I don’t qualify for financial assistance? Can I still get a subsidised rate?

No. Unfortunately. However, there will be a referral discount of $40 for each student you refer to sign up for our introductory launch package.

Is it possible to quit in the middle of the program?

We would highly recommend that you complete the full program but we will be able to discuss possible options should you decide to quit.

Are there opportunities to participate in debate competitions?

Yes. There are many debate competitions in Singapore that anyone can participate in. We are more than happy to provide advice and guidance on competitive debating.

Can I sit in during my child’s class?

Unfortunately we cannot accomodate parents during the class as we want to create a pressure free environment for all students. However, there will be opportunities for you to see your child debate and provide you regular feedback and updates on your child’s progress. You may join us for the diagnostic session.

Will my child argue with me?

Debate is a communication process of making a better decision. Its nature is not conflict but cooperation among participants to find a best possible solution and defend it through sound arguments and criticism. Debating as an activity encourages students to understand a variety of different perspectives and to forward their ideas in a persuasive manner. Our training is aimed at making our students communicate themselves clearly, in a reasonable and logical fashion. So your child might argue with you, but it is far more likely that they will make much better arguments.

My child is below the minimum age requirement, but can he/she still join the class anyway?

We are not able to accept students below the minimum age requirement for the junior class. While it is unlikely, we may offer younger students the opportunity to join the senior class if they just miss the age requirement. The diagnostic session will determine if they are eligible.