Eighth day at Worlds – part one

Today we already managed to see semifinals and ESL final. Semi final consisting of Oxford A, Oxford B, Monash B, Manchester A on the motion This House believes governments should subsidize private home ownership.

Debate got rather messy from the first prop (Oxford B) as they introduced a plan by which governments provide public housing or give equivalent of money to bums. Then it appeared that by public housing they think private housing that is build / provided by government. Second government (Manchester A) provided rather messy extension ideas as well. Thus obvious might be the decision that both opposition teams advance to the final (second opp, Oxford A, would have advanced even if the debate was clearer..).

Now more notes on the ESL final – it was a FAIL! For two reasons:

  • It seems that non native speakers are considered to have cripled minds as motions for their rounds tend to be somewhat more general – This House would have quotas for domestic players in National football leagues. Come on – ESL speakers are also capable to speak about way more wicked and trickier motions..
  • However, then the second points comes into play – ESL speakers are rather unable to provide some deep and creative analysis. The whole debate turned out to be lame – people had little knowledge about football and many points included fallacious assumptions or facts like people want to feel connected only to players who are familiar with the club’s history 🙂

After ESL final we came up with two ideas:

  • World Universities Debating Championships shouldn’t have seperate ESL and EFL breaks. Or if they do then these competitions have to run completely seperately. Now it seems that people who have less of intellectual capacity are given a second chance because they are non natives. Today’s ESL final proved that it’s not the language that these people lack rather than debating tradition, appropriatte knowledge and ability to analyse.. Yes, it was shameful to watch the final and acknowledge that our teams couldn’t break 😦
  • We will refuse to accept ESL status next time as we don’t want to be associated with these crippled minds. If we can’t break then we are just not good enough and ESL break can’t change anything about it. Take a look at Vilnius.. Even if they become World Champions (in EFL) will that make them proud? Can you be happy winning a title if you are aware that you were nowhere near the best teams?

OK – let us go change to see the real final with Oxford A, Oxford C, Harward A and Monash B!


6 thoughts on “Eighth day at Worlds – part one

  1. That was a very insightful post, which deserves some unsolicited comments:

    – On EFL, I completely agree that this is a ridiculous category that was ill-designed and now ill-implemented. I find it perplexing that what was meant effectively as a category for Japanese teams who hardly speak any English, now has Vilnius competing in it (with both ladies on the team clearly being perfectly competent English speakers). I don’t think that winning EFL would make them particularly proud. Funnily though, I think the motion for the EFL final was a lot more interesting than that for the ESL final. Which leads me very neatly to my next point

    – On the ESL final motion, I think it was a disgrace, and a manifestation of very poor judgement on behalf of the adjudication team.

    – On ESL in general, while motion choice is often a problem there, I think it’s still worth competing there. I appreciate the discussion of whether being ESL is more an indication of debating ability and intelligence rather than language, but that’s not the point. After all, if ESL level is generally so poor, it shouldn’t be difficult to go and win it.

    Weasel as it sounds, I am convinced that setting achievable goals is very important in improving performance. If SSE Riga withdraws from ESL, it may as well withdraw from Worlds altogether, as it is unlikely that an SSE Riga makes the main break any time soon. At the same time, speaking in ESL break rounds (in front of a few hundred people in a final) at Worlds is a great experience, and if anything it motivates speakers and develops their skills.

  2. I completely agree with every point Yuri made. I’d like to add some ideas, though.

    ESL may be a category defined through language skills but the fact is that language is in addition to being a problem also a source of problems. We have discussed that it takes some brain power to convert information into another language, so not all of it can be used for coming up with smart analysis. Having said that, I don’t of course think that language is the only reason for why ESL speakers are weaker and seem less intelligent to you. The lack of debating traditions etc does have its impact too. What we are dealing here is a case of positive discrimination. And I believe that there are strong arguments for that. One of the aims of Worlds is to attract a wide pool of participants, and many would have no motivation to even start thinking of participating knowing that the best they can achieve is the 94th or 118th place. So, the system is necessary for fulfilling the aims of the whole event. Traditions that foster constant appearance of strong debaters must start sometime and need to be developed for some time to have effect.

    I realise that similar arguments could be developed for EFL, if ESL/EPL is a question of yes or no, then EFL/ESL is a question of how much and that is probably the reason why EFL has failed, given that we are dealing with something that is extremely hard to measure (should there be something like IELTS or TOEFL???).

    And it is very hard to see what could be won by withdrawing from ESL. Would it make sense for Yelena Isinbayeva or some Madara Liduma to start competing with men as this is the real world class? (And unfortunately we are more like Liduma than Isinbayeva…)

  3. And Happy New Year to everyone of course! Let 2009 be better year than ever for SSE Riga & LMT DS!

    If anyone’s interested in seeing videos from the Worlds than Tuna has some http://globaldebateblog.blogspot.com/

  4. Hey there, Martins, has it ever occured to you to ask me or Aiste directly about what we think of winning Worlds in the EFL category rather than speculate about us being proud of it in the blog?

  5. Sure it has occurred..
    You know what I think, but what do you think?

  6. Well personally neither me, nor Aiste were excessively proud of our win. We realise perfectly we’re not the greatest world champions, nevertheless it is always pleasant to have one’s skills appreciated by awards.
    Besides, we did fit in in the EFL criteria. Question whether EFL is needed or what kind of criteria should there be is debatable, but from your writings we sort of got the idea that it’s not the matter of the EFL (or even ESL) as such but the matter of Vilnius actually breaking, winning and being topspeakers that offended you.

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