French students from local schools hold debate

November 3, 2008 — by Mary Mykhaylova and Anna Shen

A unique student debate took place on Oct. 26—and no, it had nothing to do with the current presidential election. The debaters who participated did the usual—introduction, rebuttal and counterattacks, but in French.

The debate took place at Monta Vista High School on Oct. 26, with an audience of 40 and a team of 18 formally dressed, fluent French students from Lynbrook, Monta Vista and Saratoga High School.

The organizers of this debate were the students of the French Clubs from each school.

The topics up for debate were centered around the topics of global warming and the current financial crisis.

The Saratoga students who participated in this French debate were juniors Felix Chiu, Jan Iyer, Annie Lee, Mary Mykhaylova and Alison Wustrow, and seniors Sophia Balogh, Lisa Chang and Megha Raghavan.

The judge panel consisted of five adults; three were teachers, including Laura Lizundia, who teaches French 4 and AP French Language at Saratoga High. Lizundia, along with the other judges who were present, was given a rubric that measured content, mechanics and communication skills.

“[The speakers] were really impressive, because none of them are native speakers,” said Lizundia. “Their French is at a really high level, and it was quite fun to watch.

The 18 French speakers were divided into three teams.

Each team was integrated with students from all three schools.

“At first, I was intimidated, because most of the students were really good at French,” said Lee, “but after we started talking, I [was] really glad that I met [them].”

The members of the winning team each received a ten-dollar Jamba Juice gift card. Chiu was the only Saratoga student who was on the winning team.

The French debate helped the students understand the challenges of speaking a foreign language in a setting other than in a classroom.

“[Debating in French] was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be,” said Iyer. “There’s a huge difference between speaking French in a classroom setting versus [speaking French in a] real world situation.”

With this success, the French clubs from the three schools are planning to hold one debate per semester.

“The debate was a lot of fun and a great experience,” said Iyer. “I will definitely go back next year if we are given the opportunity.”

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