Tuesday, November 11, 2008

IDEA Trains in Mandarin and English

IDEA has organized a number of events in China, but last week marked its first step into native-language debate programs. IDEA collaborated with the School of English and Collaborative Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) for a three-day debate workshop from November 7th to November 9th, with simultaneous divisions in Mandarin and English.

Using curriculum written by Dr. Robert Trapp and translated into Mandarin by Yang Ge, Li Xi, He Jingkai, Wu Mian, Wang Yingchong and Li Chaoyuan, students in the Mandarin division learned the basics debate in the British Parliamentary format. After watching a sample debate on whether or not gay marriage should be legal in China on Friday, students participated in sessions on interpreting debate motions, case construction, refutation and opposition arguments on Saturday and Sunday. Yang Ge, Li Xi, He Jingkai and Wu Mian led the Mandarin division. 36 participants from various schools across China participated.

Across the hall, a simultaneous session was held in English by Dr. Robert Trapp, Dr. Kevin Minch and I. We started off with an overview of the rules and roles of four-team debating, and then let some brave volunteers take the stage for a sample debate on the motion “This house would ban zoos.” The same subjects were covered as in the Mandarin division. All 160 students had plenty of time to practice building and presenting cases and opposition arguments on resolutions about coal mining, protecting the environment and school uniforms.

In the spirit of the workshop, we held a language contest of our own. After going over the registration forms, Robert, Kevin and I realized that most students in both divisions had English as well as Mandarin names—so we asked for second names of our own! Thanks to everyone who entered the contest, and feel free to call us by our new Mandarin names 池若博 (Robert), 凯敏奇 (Kevin) and 韩依蓓 (Elizabeth) next time you see us.

Debaters interested in Mandarin and English debates have a chance to hone their skills next month at the IDEA-BFSU Four Team Tournament from December 5th through December 7th. Two simultaneous divisions in Mandarin and English will be held, and there are no tournament fees. To read more, click here.

No comments: