Heriot-Watt University’s Multilingual Debate is an annual event that showcases the interpreting skills of undergraduate students on their Languages (Interpreting and Translating) degree programme, as well as the developing professional skills of postgraduate students on their MSc Translating and Conference Interpeting programmes. The event takes the form of a formal debate with two multilingual teams arguing for and against a motion of topical interest in a range of languages. The teams deliver their views in their various native languages (French, German, Spanish, English, Chinese, British Sign Language (BSL)).

The Multilingual Debate stimulates an interest among young people in the international politics and social issues of the modern world whilst also setting language acquisition in a realistic context.

The audience is mainly made up of pupils coming from Scottish and English secondary schools, but also university undergraduate students considering entering the interpreting profession, as well as government and local authority representatives. The audiences participated in the debate by listening to the arguments, putting questions to the speakers in the languages represented and voting on the motion. Electronic voting is used and the audience are able to see clear changes in their opinions before the debate compared to after the debate.

This year, debate topics are:

  • ‘This house believes that the spread of Globish* will enhance inter-cultural understanding’
  • ‘This house believes that if the Euro fails, Europe will turn into a global backwater’

*see references online such as: http://www.oed.com/public/globish/the-rise-of-global-english.

In past years, the debate has been so popular that we are looking to provide access and participation online to allow as many people as possible to join in.

If you would like your learners to take part in this “true celebration of linguistic diversity”, then please click here to visit Herriot Watt’s website.

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