Thursday 15 November 2012

Question Time Capital Punishment Debate - Are you for or against?

You are going to
  • watch a short debate about capital punishment from the BBC's Question Time programme
  • practise vocabulary connected with crime
  • look at some expressions connected with debating and stating opinions
  • debate a topical question
  • write an argument essay

1) Discuss
Capital punishment
  • What is it?
  • Is it fair?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it wrong? 
  • is it revenge?
  • Do two wrongs make a right?
  • What is your opinion?

2) Before you watch
Vocabulary check
The words on the right are used in the clip you are going to watch. Do you understand them all? Match them with the definitions in the drop-down menu to check you know them.

3) Watch
Question Time is BBC TV debate show where a panel of guests discuss issues of the day. This program is from 22/11/2011

The participants in this clip are;
Priti Patel - Conservative MP
Ian Hislop - Editor of Private Eye (a British satirical and current affairs magazine)
Justine Roberts - co-founder of Mumsnet.

Watch the clip
  • What opinions about Capital punishment are stated by the participants in the debate?
  • Who is "for"?
  • Who is "against"?

You can see the full debate here

4) Practise
Look at this summarized transcript of the debate.
Fill in the gaps with a word from the list.

5) Write
Choose 1 of the questions and write an answer. 
Look at the website below if you need some more ideas or views on capital punishment.

  • In many countries where capital punishment has been abolished there has been a corresponding rise in violent crime rates. For this reason, many governments are considering its re-introduction as a form of deterrent. Should capital punishment be re-introduced? (IELTS)
  • "Without capital punishment our lives are less secure and crimes or violence increase". To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion? (IELTS)
  • "By punishing murderers with the death penalty, society is also guilty of committing murder. Therefore, life in prison is a better punishment for murderers." (IELTS)

Read here for a summary of views on capital punishment.

6) Debate
Debating Language
1) Look at the text again
What language do the debaters use to state their opinions?

2) Look at the phrases below. Fill in the gaps

3) Debate for IELTS
Many IELTS students have problems thinking of ideas to put in their essays. Why not make your own version of Question Time? Choose some IELTS questions / topics and debate them in class.
Make a note of the points people make and include them in the essays which you can write after you've finished debating them.

Look at the questions for debate below. Choose one. 
A) In pairs or groups one person / group thinks of ideas to support an idea. The other person / group thinks of ideas to oppose it.
B) Debate the topic. Try and convince your "opponent" that you are right and give examples which support your points.
C) Have a "chairman" who can moderate the debate and make sure everyone gets an equal turn.
D) Let others in the class decide who has argued their ideas the best and "won" the debate.
E) Don't forget to use some of the debating language.
F) Use reason and logic. Don't get too emotional!

Some ideas for debating;
  • Downloading free films and music from the internet is stealing. Do you agree or disagree?
  • "Free Speech does not only cover saying what your opinion is without reprisals; it also gives you the right to be as foul, unpleasant and vile as you feel the need to be".   What do you think?
  • Should rich countries forgive all debts for poor countries?
  • Should money be spent on space exploration?
  • Is animal testing necessary?
  • Will the Internet bring people of the world closer together?
  • Should retirement be compulsory at 65 years of age?
  • Education is not a luxury, but a basic human right and as such should be free for everyone irrespective of personal wealth. Do you agree or disagree?
  • Children should never be educated at home by their parents. Do you agree or disagree?
  • Many people believe that women make better parents than men and that this is why they have the greater role in raising children in most societies. Others claim that men are just as good as women at parenting. What do you think?
  • Most high level jobs are done by men. Should the government encourage a certain percentage of these jobs to be reserved for women?
  • Should criminals be punished with lengthy jail terms or re-educated and rehabilitated using community service programs for instance, before being reintroduced to society?
  • All blood sports should be banned. Do you agree or disagree?
  • Should governments ever intervene in the rights of the individual?
  • Global warming is the most serious issue that the world is facing today. Do you agree or disagree?

Printable worksheets here

More language for expressing an opinion

More on debates

More on "For and Against" essays

More on crime

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