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The Debate in the Neighbourhood mentor training programme provides all of the material that you need to begin exploring debate with teaching staff and youth workers in your institution or youth group. …

The Debate in the Neighbourhood mentor training programme provides all of the material that you need to begin exploring debate with teaching staff and youth workers in your institution or youth group.

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  • When presenting questions in debate, facilitators need to point out to participants that the form in which questions are asked during debate is determined by format of debate. In some debates questions have a form of cross-examination - that is a period when one debater asks a series of questions and another debater (from the opposite side) responds to questions. Here there is a clear distinction between cross- examined and the cross-examiner (very much like in a in a court room when a lawyer cross- examines a witness). In some other formats the questioning may have a form of questions and comments from both speakers at the same time (it is called cross-fire in a Public Forum Debate format). In some other debate formats, questions take palce during a speech and have a form of interjections – when speaker interrupt a speaking debaters with short questions or comments ( points of information ). Facilitators explain that they will now move on to brief presentation of the most important functions of questioning in debate.
  • Typically a debater would ask this question if some point is not clear and yet it seems important to the questioning side.
  • Typically, debaters would ask this type of question if they want to find out if their opponents have vital evidence ( data ) to support their claim.
  • This is an interesting type of question since debaters would typically ask this question when they want their opponents to admit something that the opponents do not really want to admit. Here the opponent is being forced to agree that possibly some forms of limits on freedom should exist and therefore there may be greater values than freedom- for example safety or well being of others.
  • This function is self-explanatory. Debaters would want to ask these questions as much as possible. They are very effective and help debaters to score points during the debate.
  • The most important message for a cross-examiner is that they should try to use questions strategically and make their opponents say things that they would prefer not to admit in a debate.
  • The most important message for the cross-examined is to remain calm and try not to allow the cross-examiner to trick him/her into saying something they would regret as debaters (e.g. admitting a weak point, etc.)


  • 1. Questions in debate Cross-examination - debaters ask each other questions during designated periods in debate
  • 2. CROSS -EXAMINATION What is the purpose of cross-examination in debate: different types of questions
  • 3. CROSS -EXAMINATIONClarify the Opponent’s argumentsQ: I am sorry, our team missed your last point… Could you please explain…?
  • 4. CROSS -EXAMINATIONAsk for additional informationQ:Do you have any statistics on this point ?
  • 5. CROSS -EXAMINATIONForce your opponent to commit to a positionQ: You said that the freedom of an individual is the greatest value. Is it always right? What about cases when individuals can potentially endanger others?
  • 6. CROSS -EXAMINATIONExpose bad argumentsQ: You have said that advertising has no effect on the viewers but then why would companies like Coca- Cola be then spending all this money if advertising did not work?
  • 7. CROSS -EXAMINATION• Expose inadequate evidence• Q: You mentioned the fact that after re-introducing capital punishment in California, the crime rate in that state increased. Do you know if that was an increase in violent crime or other types of crime?• A: We have the statistics that show the over-all increase.
  • 8. CROSS –EXAMINATION- questioner• Treat your opponent with respect and courtesy.• Ask questions in series- follow –up on answers with another question.• Ask short close-ended question: do you agree? Is it correct that?
  • 9. CROSS –EXAMINATION- questioned• Remain poised and confident• Admit ignorance, if the question demands knowledge of obscure facts.• Exercise the control of the cross- examination period by controlling the timing of your answers.