On Wednesday 23rd March a group of 9 pupils and 3 staff travelled to Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
When we arrived we navigated our way across the mini village to the postgraduate building where there were various Chinese workshops being displayed. There was a chance to try traditional Chinese food, see a performance of Tai Chi and also an introduction to Chinese knots artwork.
Following lunch and our little taste of China, we walked back across campus to the multilingual debate. Schools from all over Scotland were in the audience and there was even a camera broadcasting the debate online for students all around the world. The topic of discussion was: “This House believes that accessing public services in your native language should be a recognised and implemented human right”. There was a panel of six people from different nationalities who were arguing either in favour of the motion or against. They all spoke in their native tongues which were Chinese, German, French, Spanish, English and British Sign Language. In booths at the side of the stage, there were language students interpreting their arguments into English for the audience to understand. This was done by providing everybody with headphones, a radio and three channels to tune into. You could flick through the channels and hear the students translating very successfully.
Before the debate, everybody in the audience voted anonymously using an electronic device. The results came in at 68% Yes votes and 32% No votes. After the debate there was an audience vote again and the results dropped quite significantly to 56% Yes and 44% No.
At the end of the debate a representative of Heriot-Watt told us the benefits of having a language in the world of work nowadays. It offers many opportunities for young graduates in both business and international affairs.
Claire MacDonald 6S