It was standing room only in the languages café as participants and spectators from BGS, QEH, Badminton School, Clifton High, Monmouth Boys, Haberdashers Monmouth Girls and Llandaff Cathedral filled up the room and prepared excitedly to debate in German, French and Spanish.
Debating in our own language is a challenge, it requires careful preparation, anticipating avenues of argument, good listening skills, clear and logical presentation, teamwork and so much more. But to do so successfully in another language, to debate whether “Germany should take in fewer immigrants” and to do so in German, is surely a task for a linguist at University. “Nicht wahr?” Not so in Bristol. For over ten years Clifton students have been presenting, challenging and defending positions on serious and sometimes light-hearted topics.
Students were debating whether 'Books are better than films', if 'German pop culture is threatened by the influences of America and Great Britain', whether 'The internet is essential to modern life' and if 'The family has less importance nowadays than 30 years ago.'
Owen Lewis, Head of MFL, said: "Speeches at these events are always well-polished and slickly-delivered and the quality of debating, during the ten minutes given over to questions and answers, seems to rise year on year.
"School inspectors seek evidence of independence in students and hence 'independent learning' has become a buzzword. The most successful debaters at the event had indeed learned to think for themselves in their research and preparation. They could react on the spot and be flexible with their arguments and answers to unprepared questions in the heat of a debate."