How Debate Teaches Students to Develop Strong Listening Skills

One of the core components in any debate competition is the ability to listen. High school debaters are quietly paying attention to every word their opponent says. Because a debater is incredibly well versed on the subject at hand, she is able to quickly spot an error in fact or logic from her opponent. This provides a chance for the debater to chime in with a rebuttal, and hopefully secure a winning place in the tournament.

While most real-world arguments include yelling and illogical reasoning, debate ascribes to listening and careful challenging. High school debaters come to a competition prepared with: reasoning, research, and evidence. A debater has also carefully organized her findings so she can reference her notes with one swift glance. Skilled debaters will diligently listen and take notes throughout the debate. This also helps a debater find flaws and weaknesses in her opponent; essentially, she is able to read her opponent through the use of listening.

Developing listening skills have also been confirmed to help effectively hone communication skills. Through the use of debate, “Students with special needs, who often rely on their speaking and listening skills, experience success. Extroverted students, natural talkers, improve their listening skills. Introverted students, natural listeners, improve their speaking skills.” Debate brings together the skills of: thinking, reasoning, listening, and intelligent speech. As poised debaters know, all aptitudes must work in conjunction with each other in order to achieve a level of success.

Students with strong listening skills: are more focused, have the ability to take notes on an array of subjects, develop quicker reflexes and responses to arguments, comprehend subject matter easier than their non-debate counterparts, remain interested in the topic at hand, mentally erase distractions, and develop a sense of empathy after listening to an opponent’s side of an argument. All of these learned listening skills are essential for success in college and the workplace.