Learning 22 Dec 2020

CIS's second interschool French debate competition win

By Armelle Tainsh, secondary French teacher
Photograph by CIS Communications

For the third consecutive year, in November, CIS students participated in the interschool French debates aka Les Joutes oratoires. Competing via Zoom added a degree of difficulty to the debates but both CIS teams demonstrated expert communication skills and patience - even when some technical glitches happened. Debate topics this year were around the environment, migrants, and pandemic lockdowns. 

CIS students, Kieran L and Tom D B, did exceptionally well, winning the interschool French debates competition in the "native speakers'' category! So, it was very pleasing to secure another victory for CIS this year. Swara and Ericka, who competed in the "language acquisition category" also did amazingly well in their first debate. Unfortunately, they lost against a stronger opponent (MOELC) in the semi-finals.

Well done to all of everyone! This is the second time CIS has won the cup. Our first win in 2018 saw Solene and Gaia bringing the cup home. Here’s what our students have to say about their experiences: 

Kieran L and Tom DB (co-winners of the interschool French debates 2020 - “Francophones” - French speaker category)
The French Oral Debate, also known as “Les Joutes Oratoires” was a stressful yet rewarding experience. In 3 words, it was stressful, exhilarating, and intense. We spent weeks before the debate researching and composing our arguments both for and against our 3 topics: environmentalism, immigration, and whether people should be given the choice to quarantine themselves. Although the preparation process was stressful, it enabled us to discover new, interesting ideas to argue our stand. 

When the day of the debate arrived, we were so nervous that we jumped up and down, and screamed into our fists minutes before the event. When it finally went down, we were faced against a single opponent (her partner was unable to join us at the last minute). This, however, did not affect the quality of her points and the tenacity of her rebuttals, continuously challenging our points and team cooperation. 

Thankfully, we managed to respond to all her comments and pointed out her arguments' flaws. We were ecstatic when we found out that we had won and started to jump up and down again - this time out of joy and pride. All in all, it was a great opportunity to develop our analytical and persuasive skills. We are so proud of all the hard work we put into this day, and how it paid off. We are glad we undertook this opportunity as it allowed us to develop our French-speaking fluency through debating and arguing about a topic in French, an experience that we rarely have. Thank you to everyone involved in the process for helping us make this victory achievable.

Swara Rana (participant in the FLE - French as a Foreign language - category)
Taking part in the French Debate was a unique experience, one which was meaningful - even if we didn't win. Initially, the idea of debating in French intimidated me because I am nowhere near fluent in the language. However, I wanted to try something new and take up a challenge which I also did by taking part in the French Idol for two years. Since I had a great experience from that, I believed that if I put in effort I would be able to make this experience meaningful as well. The topics of the debate were challenging and it required a lot of effort to talk about them in French. Thanks to my wonderful partner Ericka and the support from Mdm Tainsh, Mdm Fiannaca and Mdm Odile, we were able to work together to make coherent arguments in French which were partly prepared beforehand and partly spontaneous. Ericka and I were also able to learn from the better teams about debate etiquette, idea construction and effective communication. It was definitely a unique experience and I would do it again if I could.