Information for Prospective Students
In the Wasatch Independent Debate League we are
serious about creating the most exceptional, academically
rigorous, and inspiring educational experience that a student
The class is about speaking and debating, but is just as much
about critical thinking, being able to organize thoughts,
understanding important ideas and current events, and being
part of a community of students striving to succeed. We want
students to be able to debate, but it is more important to us
that they develop the skills and mindsets which will prepare
them to engage critically in communities, government,
business, education, and life. Classes begin with half an hour of
discussion and debate on current events, politics, moral issues,
and big ideas. During this time students get to match wits with
their teacher and are challenged to think more deeply than
they ever have before.
In lessons students will gain thinking, speaking, and debating skills and apply them to events such as Impromptu Speaking, Spontaneous Argument, Extemporaneous Speaking, Oratory, Student Congress Debate, Presidential Debate, and Lincoln Douglas Debate.
In class, students spend their time thinking, discussing, researching, and, more than anything, speaking and debating because that is what makes the class exciting and that is how students learn best. By being in the class, students are members of the Wasatch Independent Debate League and compete in WIDL tournaments. Competitions are motivating and challenging growth oriented experiences. They also provide a community of successful people with whom students can engage.
Interested? Check out our class schedule, or fill out our interest form to get in contact with us:
Parents: Is My Student Ready?
For beginning classes it is recommended that students generally start at age 13. If your child is 12 and you want to know if taking the class is a good fit, ask yourself these questions:
Does your child want to take the class on their own, or are you having to push them? A desire to begin speaking ones thoughts is a good indication that a student’s mind is getting ready for speech and debate.
Is your child beginning to consider the world beyond their immediate experience? If they are, this demonstrates that they are moving into the world of higher order cognition and may be ready to take on speech and debate. If they are not, then you may wish to have them wait another year as they may find speech and debate frustrating.
Is your child ready to start doing homework every week? This is a requirement of the class, and there is little in class time to address study skills. Students who aren’t ready to do homework on a weekly basis will be more likely to flounder in the class.
If you want to consider an intermediate class, consider the following items:
Only older and more mature students are generally allowed to skip beginning.
There is content taught in beginning classes which is not revisited in later classes.
Students in advanced classes do a great deal of self directed work.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is expected of students and parents?
Students are expected to attend and participate in each class. They should also attend a minimum of 4 tournaments each year. They should expect 1-2 hours of homework each week. They should expect to do new and hard things and not give up. The full list of commitments can be found by clicking on the "Commitments" box above.
Parents are expected to support their children by helping them get to class and tournaments and giving them time to work on speech and debate. Parents are also required to judge at at least one tournament every year (one time for each child in speech and debate.)
What do I need to know about tournaments?
Tournaments are held monthly from October to April on Saturdays. They are typically held at schools and colleges including Weber State University, the University of Utah, BYU, American Heritage School and Canyon Grove. Tournaments go from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. COVID has caused most of our tournaments to go online and some tournaments will continue to have an online component when we can return to in person tournaments. Students need to attend the full day of each tournament.
Students should attend a minimum of 4 tournaments each year, but are encouraged to attend as many as possible. Tournaments bring everything together in speech and debate and are an integral component of the class and experience.
What does judging at a tournament mean?
WIDL uses parents and other adults as judges at tournaments. Each parent agrees to judge for a full day tournament at least once per year for each child they have enrolled in a class. Judging means you will be assigned a group of students in an event. You will listen to their speeches or debates and you will rank them and give them feedback.
Judges register to judge at the tournament or tournaments of their choice. (You can judge as often as you like.) After registering, judges are given instructions and some training on judging. However, even if you've never judged before, you will be a great judge. WIDL does not use highly trained, technical judges. Judging at a tournament lets you see Speech and Debate in a whole new way. It's a great experience and you should look forward to it!
Where are classes held?
Classes are typically held in homes. You can find the city of each class location on the schedule. After you are registered for a class you will be sent the exact location.