Debate League FAQs
Can I visit a Debate League meeting before I decide about joining?
Yes, you are welcome to visit the group to “check us out.” Guests are seated with the members, and are sometimes given the option to participate in some of the meeting's activities. To arrange for a visit, call or text us at 310-528-7369, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are some helpful qualities for a child considering Debate League?
- Ability to pay attention, process verbal information quickly, and to pick up the meaning of words from context.
- Strong handwriting skills (or use of a device with strong keyboarding skills).
- An expressed interest in debate, preferably with an interest in, or curiosity about, world or political affairs.
- A self-starter who takes personal responsibility for results.
- Good public speaking skills (if not, it may be a good idea to join a Speakers League club in addition to Debate League).
- Has a competitive streak.
- Works well with others.
Are there other helpful elements for Debate League success?
- Capability and access to do independent research.
- Can bring a device for research to club meetings (e.g. smartphone, tablet).
Is there a "best" time of year to join Debate League?
Yes. When there is a space open in the club! We created our Debate League program to allow us to integrate new members into the club at any time. Membership is limited to 20. After that, we add names to a waiting list.
How do you integrate new members into an ongoing club?
There are usually two coaches at every meeting, and to get our new members up to speed, we start them on a gradual series of in-meeting and at-home activities and exercises to incrementally build their knowledge of the elements of debate.
These activities and exercises include:
- Listening, Thinking, and Impromptu Speaking exercises.
- Flowing and Analysis: Debate note-taking. Who said what, and what was important?
- Argument structure – Tagline, Claim, Warrant, Evidence, and Impact. Be able to identify each in written material and then auditory material.
- Sparring (and flowing) – Short debates on fun topics that don’t involve pre-research (e.g. laces vs. velcro, cats vs. dogs, who would win a swimming contest, Hillary or Trump, etc.).
- Create two complete arguments, for both sides of a topic, based on provided material.
- Research - Techniques and evidence formatting.
- Blocks – pre-written responses to anticipated arguments from your opponent. Write blocks for the four arguments in the previous exercise.
- Rebuttals – Determining weaknesses in your opponent’s case and determining effective angles of attack.
- Framework – The lens through which you want the judge to view the debate. The framework tells the judge how to determine the winner.
- Models - Pre-planned approaches for focusing a debate.
- Team assistant – Until you wish to compete, and have a partner, you may opt to assist a tournament debating team in research, argument writing, and block writing.
I'm not twelve, yet. Can I still join?
Look at the second FAQ above for a general idea of whether you already have traits considered helpful for debate. That's a great start. What will determine if you are a good fit, is if you can grasp the material and topics and implement the techniques you are learning. If, after joining, you feel out of your depth, you can withdraw, or switch to Speakers League while you continue to develop your presentation skills.
I'll be turning 18 this year. Can I still join?
You may stay in Debate League until you graduate high school, or turn 19, whichever is later.
What style of debate do you do in the club?
The style of debate we focus on in Debate League is called "Public Forum." Public Forum involves teams of two, debating the pros and cons of a proposal, called a "resolution." Each speaker has a chance to speak twice and is involved in two "crossfire" questioning segments.
To prepare for a Public Forum debate, we examine the resolution, determine the issues at play, structure arguments and rebuttals, plan for effective cross-examination, conduct evidence research, crystallize/summarize the state of a debate, cite impacts, learn how to identify and combat logical fallacies, and understand the elements of judging. Members are usually called upon to debate BOTH sides of an argument and must prepare for both.
See image below for more details on the format.
Is there a Member Handbook or textbook provided?
All of our members are provided our "textbook," Beyond Resolved: A Public Forum Debate Manual, when they join, which nicely outlines the format and the details of the style. When necessary, other handouts are provided.
What should members bring to the meeting?
We encourage members to bring their textbook, a notebook with paper, and, if possible, a cellular-connected research device, e.g. smartphone or tablet, to each meeting.
Do members argue respectfully?
At Debate League, members learn and communicate in a persuasive and respectful way. We follow the H.E.R.O. code of conduct:
- Honest - Arguments should not mislead or distort the truth. Statistics and sources must be accurate and never made up.
- Equal - While we may not agree on topics, each side of a debate, and each member, is presumed to have the dignity of an equally valid voice
- Respectful - Members, parents, and coaches do NOT engage in belittling, bullying, rude, or nasty behavior/commentary toward members or their families. Timely responses between teammates and coaches is expected.
- Open-minded - Members, and parents acting as judges, will not pre-judge based on the topic, but will instead focus on the relative success of teams to prove the arguments on their side of the proposition through providing clear contentions, evidence, and impacts.
Where do the clubs compete?
Many public and private school debate teams meet for 4-6 hours per week, giving them tons of time with coaches to prep for full, monthly debates and multiple outside tournaments. Homeschool Debate League, on the other hand, only meets "in class" for 4-hours per month, supplemented with training videos.
The result of this shortened training and practice time is that rather than focus on monthly debates and outside tournaments, we focus on two intra-club tournaments per school year, and one internal club tournament. As far as Debate League intra-club tournaments, the Winter Classic is held over three days the second week of December, and the SLAM tournament is held on the second Saturday in June. The internal club tournaments are held in March.
Outside tournaments may be made available, but only to experienced debate partners willing to put in the significant outside time necessary to prepare.
Should I do Speakers League instead, or in addition to Debate League?
Success in debate is a combination of preparation and presentation, leading to perceptual dominance by one team over the other. While the words are the most important part of debate, judges are also influenced by excellent presentation. Speakers League focuses on impromptu speaking, presentation techniques, and critical evaluation, all indispensable skills in debate.
How much does it cost to join?
There is a one-time, non-refundable, $75 registration/materials fee per child when you join a Homeschool Debate League club. Dues, if paid annually, are $420. If you would prefer a month-to-month arrangement, you may opt to pay dues of $40 per month, year-round, until you withdraw from the club.
Why are monthly dues collected during the summer when the club doesn’t meet?
All of our Debate League dues are essentially annual. You can either pay $420 per year all at once, or $480 per year in $40/month increments. There are three reasons:
- We found that parents like the flexibility of a paying a smaller month-to-month figure, especially because dues are non-refundable.
- We found that stability in our membership was enhanced by a year-round arrangement.
- We are able to keep our dues lower because there is less paperwork, staffing, and marketing involved in managing membership.
Is there a sibling discount?
Yes. Siblings in the same club receive a 10% discount on both registration and dues. Use the promo code “SIBLINGS” on your online order form.
What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and PayPal for our monthly payment option. If paying annually you may use these same methods, or cash, or check. Charters school funds accepted, as well (see next question).
Do you accept Charter School Funds?
Yes, we are an approved vendor for numerous charter schools including Sky Mountain, Golden Valley, Excel College Prep Academy, National University Academy, Springs Charter Schools, Summit, Gorman, Inspire, Impact, and Sage Oak. If you don’t see your charter listed, let us know and we will become a vendor for it.
First semester begins in September - $250
Second semester begins in mid-January - $250
No registration fees apply for charter school students. If you are joining mid-semester, request a prorated PO figure from us. Families of charter members who wish to secure ongoing enrollment through summer break can choose to pay a $25 place holding fee. Without this fee your child will be considered a new student in the fall and may be subject to joining the waiting list if the class is full.
What do my class costs cover?
Any registration fees, tuition, or dues cover such items as room rentals, equipment and supplies, trophies, staffing, videotaping, database entry, textbooks, forms, etc.
How often do the clubs meet?
Debate League clubs meet twice per month between September and May, plus our annual conference on the second Saturday in June.
Do we have to come to every meeting?
No. However, it is a good idea to request that someone take notes for you of what happened at the meeting.
How do we withdraw from the club?
You may withdraw your child from the club at any time by notifying the coach. Payments up to that point are non-refundable. Future scheduled payments are immediately halted. If fewer than 10 days before the next meeting, charters will be billed through the next meeting.
Do you offer financial aid?
If you feel that you could not otherwise participate in Debate League without some financial assistance, we do make special arrangements for families that request it. Many of our students receive assistance. We want everyone to be able to partake of this great program! We offer partial scholarships, and they are based solely on need, not merit. To request a scholarship, we ask that the parent submit a statement in writing, or verbally, describing the reason assistance is desired, and what amount is requested. Members/parents who receive scholarship assistance may be asked to contribute volunteer time, on occasion.
When we’re ready to join, what should we do?
The quickest way is through our online enrollment portal at this link. (If you are requesting financial aid, contact us at the email or phone number at the bottom of this page, and a different ordering method will be used.)
What happens after my child joins?
Once you have paid and completed our online member data form, an automated, short series of emails will start to come to you to help your child get ready for the club. The textbook will be provided by mail or at your first meeting.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com or 310-528-7369.