In this form of team debate, students are given a topic and assigned to be either the government (the side that supports the proposition) or the opposition (the side that opposes it).  They are given 20 minutes to prepare arguments for their side of the debate.  Parliamentary debaters need to be exceptionally well read as topics range from Metaphors to policy resolutions that either implicitly or explicitly require you to know about foreign relations, politics, economic, philosophy, and sociology.  At most tournaments, coaches are allowed to prep students but at the state and national tournaments, no coaching is allowed, though students are able to consult materials and use the internet.

This one-on-one debate format has one policy topic for the entire year that all colleges debate.  Debaters research the topic and prepare a case supported by evidence.  They also collect evidence in opposition to possible cases and for disadvantages.  NFA-LD calls for a stock issue paradigm and rules mandate that the pace of the debate be “conversational.” Cases and evidence is shared among the squad, reducing the research burden.  When the year begins there is a "team" case, but thereafter multiple cases may be written either by students or coaches. Cases may not be disclosed on wikis or in any other manner without coach consent.. Violation of this policy will result in dismissal from the team.

This one-on-one debate allows 30 minutes of preparation with offers five topics from which the debaters choose.  Students are allowed a laptop and may use preparation materials or the internet.  Arguments should be delivered in a persuasive, conversational tone, and be logical.  Sources should be cited, and theoretical positions should be avoided.  In a tie, the rules state that the most eloquent speaker should be given the win.

Generally, everyone on the El Camino team will compete in Parliamentary Debate and either NFA-LD or IPDA.  El Camino no longer competes in Policy (CEDA or NDT) Debate.

Interpretation Events

National Forensics League Lincoln-Douglas Debate (NFA-LD)

Individual Events

​Platform Speeches

​Limited Preparation Events

Debate Events

El Camino excels at these events and most students will be taught and entered in them at the start of the year.  Although they are called limited preparation because competitors get a limited amount of time to prepare their speech.  But while they are called limited prep events, the name is not entirely accurate.  A great deal of preparation is necessary to be ready to compete in these events.  The events comprise:

Impromptu.  In this event, you get two minutes to prep a five-minute speech.  Topics range from one-word abstracts to quotations (famous and otherwise).  A good impromptu speaker has committed many examples of people, movements, philosophies, and events to memory.  These examples can be used across the themes that tend to be represented by the quotations.  Themes such as love, adversity, courage, failure, etc., are commonplace.
Extemporaneous: Here you get 30 minutes and a lap top to prepare a 7-minute speech with 9-12 source citations.  Topics are taken from current events, domestic and international within the past 90 days.  Extempers spend considerable time staying apprised of current affairs.  They research, electronically file, and index stories from major publications across the country.  Each extemper will be assigned a topic area to in order to contribute to the file.

These speeches are all under 10 minutes in length and are memorized.  In competition, emphasis is placed on the creativity of the topic.  Topics that were done in Speech 1 are rarely creative enough to meet the challenge.

Informative.  This is a well-researched speech that attempts to inform the audience about a significant topic.  Emphasis is placed on the freshness of the topic.  Topics involving innovations in technology, medicine, and science are common and tend to do well.   Visual aids are generally expected in this event.
Persuasive.  This is well-researched speech that attempts to change an audience's attitude or behavior.  You must persuade the audience to act to change a significant, but little-known social problem.  You present the problem, advocate a solution, and challenge your audience to get involved.
Communication Analysis.  This is one of the most difficult individual events.  A rhetorical model is applied to a communication artifact (e.g., an advertising campaign or a television show) in an attempt to help us better understand that artifact.  This event requires a great deal of work with a coach  who is familiar with newly released rhetorical theories.
Speech to Entertain.  The goal of this speech is to make people laugh.  The trick is that it also must have some significant social message and a structure.  It is not a stand up comedy routine, but rather a well crafted speech that is full of humor.  People who do this event have a good sense of comedic timing.


To the untrained eye, oral interpretation is like acting; however, there are important differences in style and technique.  To be brutally honest, not everyone has the talent to do interpretation events, although everyone seems to want to try them.  Unlike acting, there is limited movement in oral interpretation, but there may be multiple characterizations and even singing.  The participants hold black binders with their scripts in them at all times to remind them and the audience of the centrality of the literature.  Like the platform speeches, competitive material is usually not well known.    All programs are ten minutes long.  Each program should communicate a central theme.  Many judges require that the theme be an argument.  There are several interp events from which to choose:

Prose Interpretation.  This is a cutting from a book or short story.  The cutting should develop key characters well enough that we know them.  The story that emerges must have coherence—a clear beginning and ending.  Ideally, there is emotional variety (humor as well as drama) in the piece.
Poetry Interpretation.  You can either weave together a variety of poems around a central theme/argument or choose a single piece that has multiple voices.  The model here is verse, not rhyme.  In fact, most competitive pieces are not readily identifiable as poetry, in the classic sense.
Dramatic Interpretation (DI).  This is a cutting from a play, where the interper portrays multiple characters.  Like prose, the cutting must be artistically crafted to allow sufficient character and scene development.  Credit is given to emotional variety and the uniqueness of the selection.
Programmed Oral Interpretation (POI).  In this event, the performer weaves together more than one of the above genres around theme/argument.
Duo Interpretation.  Same as drama but with two people, both of whom may portray multiple characters.

Generally speaking, taking Oral Interpretation of Literature from Diana Crossman is a must if you wish to compete in “interp.”  El Camino no longer has an interp coach but one would be hired if we had a student of exceptional interp talent.

National Parliamentary Debate

International Public Debate Association Debate (IPDA)

​el camino college foresics team