Thursday, 6 June 2013

English Debate 2013

I spent this afternoon in the company of some extraordinary students.   All of them were in troisième (year 9's) and were expected to conduct a “for and against” debate completely in English.   Their level of English was exceptional and their commitment to the competition exemplary.   I had the honour of being a juror during the preliminaries in May and was asked to judge the qualifiers at the College Louis Pasteur and the final which took place at the Conseil General de la Manche in St Lo, an imposing building and worthy of the gravitas of the final.   It is the third year I have had the privilege to judge these debates and I was struck, not only by the students' level of English, but by the enthusiasm of their teachers.   My fellow jurors were, to a person, impressed with the formidable efforts the students made and I, for one, know that I would not have been able to debate in French the motions that these students were tasked with.   It is one thing arguing your point with conviction in your maternal tongue, quite another to argue a case for or against a subject in a foreign language.   Students were told the subject 10 minutes prior to the debate and then drew their position either for or against the motion.   After 10 minutes preparation with their teachers they had 10 minutes to convince us of their arguments.   At the end four jurors deliberated and scored their efforts.   As the "native English" speaker on the jury it was my role to deliver the results, an incredibly humbling experience.   My congratulations go out to the team from Agon-Coutainville and their teachers, but also to the runners up from Louis Pasteur and all the teams that participated.   Bravo à tous!!

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