Here’s a PowerPoint presentation I made to help you teach debate skills to your ESL students. It looks at what a debate is, why it’s important to learn debating skills, and then gives students the necessary language to engage in a debate. Finally, it poses some debating tasks. I use the second last page for splitting the class into two groups and then have them debate against each other, and the final page as a pair exercise, with all pairs working on different topics. But feel free to adapt it to your own class and teaching style!
I’ve run this activity many times with really quite groups of students and it never fails to get them speaking. I hope it can do the same for your classes.