How to have a really good argument

how to have a good argument

Level: C1/ C2

Type of English: general, political, business

Lesson activities: listening comprehension, vocabulary building, speaking practice. 

Grammar focus: phrasal verbs 

Tags: argue in English, howto, business language, 

Need some top tips for having a successful argument? Former politician Rory Stewart gives us his guide to arguing more effectively.

During the 1-hour class your teacher will take notes of your mistakes and make corrections.

These will be emailed to you after the lesson.

It is a good idea to revise the same vocabulary at the start of the next lesson.

Opening Questions:

What is the difference between a discussion and an argument?

Socially, can you have a good argument and a bad argument?

Do you like to agree/disagree about politics with your friends?

Do you have any rules or “red lines” when having an argument?

Have you ever made a public speech? (Formal or informal) 

New Vocabulary Questions:

What does it to grasp an apple and to grasp a subject/topic?

In the UK what is an MP?

In the UK what is a conservative MP?

What is a metaphor and can you think of one?

What does it mean to carry out a presentation?

What is a point in an argument?

Can you name 2 things that you can work out?

If I am trying to land a point in an argument, what am I doing?

In modern English we say “kind of” all the time but what does it mean?

Is torture pleasant?

Do you know another word for contort?

If you put someone’s back up, what did you do?

What’s the difference between upset and set up?

Can you name 2 things we calibrate?

Can you think of a situation when it is best to hold back? 

Can you think of a situation when it is best to just go for it?

Is a killer argument good or bad?

What happens when you get wound up?

What is cramp when you are exercising?

What does it mean to be cramped up?

What is a lacklustre performance?

Name something that flourishes in spring?

If someone glows, what is happening?

What’s another word for “put out”? 

In an argument, when someone comes back at a point, what are they doing?

What is a bully?

If your colleague makes a mistake and your boss lets it slide, what happened?

Why would you need to pin someone down?

Watch the Video:

Task: Try to remember the tips suggested for having a successful argument

Listening Comprehension Questions:

What are some of his tips for having a successful argument?

What are some of his tips for preparing for an argument?

What is dangerous in an argument?

Where are some typical places to argue?

What type of accent does he have?

How do arguments go wrong? 

What does he say about emotion done properly?

Why does he like Twitter?

What does he say about not arguing? 

What do we get when we don’t challenge other people and don’t pin them down on their ideas?


Can arguments help you to change your mind?

Do you agree that arguments are good for clarifying thought?

Can you think of a time when you enjoyed an argument? (at a dinner part or an event)

Can you remember arguing for the wrong side?(and losing) 

Do you have any other tips for making or having a good argument?


New Vocabulary Practice:

Can you grasp the theory or relativity? 

Do you have a good or a favourite metaphor?

Describe a task you have to carry out today?

Can you make a point about hybrid working?

What’s the difference between a workout and to work out?

Can you use “kind of” in a sentence?

Can you use torture in a positive way?

Describe an example of a political contorting the truth?

What have you been most upset about recently?

Is there anything in your life that you need to calibrate?

Tell me about when you had to hold back in a conversation? 

Can you remember a time/situation when you had to just go for it?

What is a killer argument for energy sustainability?

What can you do when you feel wound up?

Do you ever get cramp when exercising?

Describe a football match or sport performance that was lacklustre?

Can you identify something that is flourishing?

Can you use the verb glow in a sentence?

Whats the best way to deal with a bully?

Is it sometimes best to let it slide and under what circumstances?

Describe the last time you had to pin someone down? 


Let’s take a minute to prepare, structure, and practice making an argument.

Choose one of the following subjects or one of your own:

a. Energy sustainability should be forced on us 

b. The future of humanity is a hybrid of human and computer 

c. Life was easier and better 30 years ago


1. Work out the structure 

2. Memorise the first line and the last line 

3. Speak and practice 

Solution & Definition:

How to have a good argument

1. Choose your subject well and know it well

2. Structure = beginning, middle, and end 

3. Content = the words, phrases, metaphors, and jokes to give it life. 

4. Emotion = in the voice and body language 


How to prepare for an argument

1. Work out the structure 

2. Memorise the first line and the last line 

3. Speak and practice 



to grasp = to comprehension/ to understand / to take with your hand 

a metaphor = is used to compare 2 things by describing another 

to carry out = to perform a job 

a point = a fact or a part of a bigger argument 

to work out = to find a solution

to land a point = to deliver or say a point in an effective way 

kind of = more or less

torture = to cause pain to another person 

contort = to bend out of the normal shape 

upset = to make unhappy/uncomfortable 

to calibrate = to take external factors into account / to allow comparison with other data 

to hold back = to hesitate to act or speak 

to go for it = to try hard to achieve something 

A killer argument = a winning argument 

wound up = nervous 

a cramp = is a pain in the body/ muscle 

cramped up = stopped by pain 

lackluster = lacking in energy or conviction 

to flourish = grow or develop in a healthy way

to glow = to look or appear healthy/ with life 

to put out = to make ready for use / to release 

to come back = to answer/ to reply/ to respond with a counter-argument 

a bully = is someone who forces another to do something they don’t want to do 

let it slide = to not enforce the rules 

To pin someone down = to force someone to be specific and make their intentions clear 


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