GSAL hosts multilingual debating competition

Tuesday 14 February 2017

GSAL has hosted a debating competition with a twist – not only did students have to come up with compelling arguments on the motion under discussion, they had to do so in a second language.

At the north east regional modern foreign language debates, eight schools as well as GSAL fielded teams in French, German and Spanish debates. The debates were adjudicated by undergraduates studying language degrees at the University of Leeds.

It was the first time GSAL had hosted this event, and the school fielded more teams than ever and was the only school to reach two of the three finals, in Spanish and German. Topics debated were wide-ranging, including closing borders to refugees, modern day parenting, environmental threats and whether school could be replaced by the internet. Competitors had just 15 minutes to prepare after learning the motion.

Lower sixth pair Tom Shakespeare and Ciaran Duggan took on a more experienced team from Hymers College in the German final. Ciaran said: “It can be hard to find the words to express the complexity of the argument, but we can always say something of interest. You have to be prepared to stand up and see what comes out!”

Elena Lumby is in the final year of a French and German degree at the University of Leeds and adjudicated the French debates. She said: “I’m very impressed with the standard, the teams are very close. We’re judging on more than just quality of language, also the development of the argument and we’ve heard lots of original arguments today.”

Connor Marston, in the 2nd year of a Spanish degree, said: “The students’ language skills are very impressive. The whole afternoon is a fantastic opportunity for students to practise their conversational skills in new situations about relevant topics. I hope to see the competition continue and thrive.”

The schools taking part were Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, All Saints School York, Yarm School, Hymers College, Ripon Grammar School, St Peters School York, RGS Newcastle and Bootham School.

Pictured are the German finalists: (L-R) Tom Shakespeare and Ciaran Duggan, GSAL Y12, and Holly Dyson and George Heuck, Hymers College Y13

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