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Adewumi Oluwadiya

I was once in your shoes when I was in High School. I had stage fright, audience phobia and was not too sure of my pronunciation of some English words . My English Language teacher who happened to be an English language narive speaker ( I was an ESL speaker) was most sympathetic to my plight. She gave me hints on what to do to become a good debater. I tried her suggestions and became the lead speaker in all the debating contests we had in my final year at school. Here we go on how I became a debater .

Too chicken to join: You are not alone . Most of your mates are also afflicted by self doubt. So all you need is to go out there and join the group. Study the group dynamics in place and find your niche. Your guiding principle must be ' I can be as good as any of them if I try'
Lack of confidence can be overcome with a lot of practice of speaking . You can take a page of your favorite prose or poetry and read it standing by a mirror in your room or bathroom. Pretend the mirror is your audience . You can also write a speech or a response to a debating prompt and memorise it and recite it to a friend , a sibling, a parent or your mirror. Practice makes for perfection . So practice your speaking skills in private and go public gradually.

Communication Skills are built over time . You must work on your listening skills , reading , writing and speaking as a deliberate effort to be a good debater. You require the four language skills and you cannot cut corners in respect of this requirement. A good listener is also a good speaker as the skills for speaking and listening reinforce each others. So also a good reader will be a good writer as the two skills mirror each other. Infact the four language skills are interdependent and their separation in the teaching - learning situation is artificial and merely for ease of teaching. If you read intensively in your subject areas and extensively in all areas available to you , you are already on the way to becoming a good language user . Your vocabulary will expand , your diction will improve and your style and fluency when you write will be better for it. You see the language in action when you read or listen to a speaker. You put the language to work when you write or speak. The more you do these the better communicator you become.
The distractors in your environment like the TV, video games , mobile phones and even Internet must be put in proper perspective .Devote more time to reading and writing and your communication skills will improve. Also listen to good debaters like late Ted Kennedy , listen to Martin Luther King, listen to some of the greatest speeches of all time. All are readily available in books and on the Internet.

Your ambition to be a good debater is admirable . It is a sure way to excel in your studies because debating is one activity that enables you sharpen your language and communication skills , two prerequisites for successs in school and life after school. Good luck as you study to be the best you can be.

Answered 8 years ago

Adewumi Oluwadiya