Debating in a Foreign Language!

Most students have tried public speaking as part of their school career and will understand that it has the potential to be overwhelming at the best of times, so it takes an exceptionally resilient student to put themselves forward for a debating competition in a foreign language!

Last October (2020), four of our Lower Sixth students accepted precisely this challenge when we were invited to take part in an inter-school debating competition, hosted by The Perse School in Cambridge. Thomas T and Sofia C teamed up for the French competition whilst Annabel S and Matilde C worked together in Spanish. Hoping for a day trip to Cambridge on a spring afternoon, it was not quite the same to meet up on Zoom at the end of a long day back in school, however we had been able to make use of some lesson time during remote learning to practise and share ideas with other students in the A Level and IB classes, in what turned into a truly collaborative effort across the different classes in the year group. 


Read below to find out more but what was abundantly clear in both competitions was the ability of all our students to speak spontaneously, without having to rely on a script. The judges were impressed by their clarity and variety of expression, their accents as well as the maturity and depth of their arguments. We didn’t make the final round this year but Felsted took its first step into the world of foreign language debating, igniting a passion, providing a chance to face a fear head-on and making plenty of memories. We may have been the underdogs this year but we learnt a lot and we will be back!

Sofia and Thomas found themselves in a pool with students from Hills Road Sixth Form College Cambridge and Oundle school. The first debate was a challenging round, having to propose the motion that all foreign homeless people should be sent back to their country, but after the chance to warm up and get familiar with the structure of the competition, both students delivered convincing speeches and during the strife they confidently picked apart the arguments made by the opposition in the second debate, opposing the motion that the government should not fund the arts. Their judge thought they went from strength to strength as the evening progressed and were a notably supportive team. 

Due to difficulties with technology on the night, Annabel had to represent the Spanish team on her own with Matilde at the other end of the Google chat. The first motion was against Norwich school and they debated the importance of maintaining traditions. Annabel was praised for her level of fluency and Spanish accent. In round two, she argued for women’s rights to have children, and despite not having a partner, won this debate against RHS, with special mention from the judges on her thoughtful arguments, supportive attitude and again, her impeccable language. 

Many thanks to Miss Trucco, Mrs Cortés, Miss Menet, Madame Mallett and Mrs Grant for helping to prepare the teams.