Multi-Lingual Debate – Edinburgh

The Modern languages department recently organised a trip for S5 pupils to attend a multilingual debate at Heriot-Watt University.

The motion debated was “This House believes that the fragmentation of existing member states could endanger the future of the EU”. The speakers used English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese. We had been given headphones, which enabled us to listen to simultaneous translations by students from the university. The skill of the interpreters was very impressive. We could see them in their glass fronted booths, frantically trying to keep up with speakers.

Before the debate started, the audience was asked to vote with an electronic gadget, the results of which were illustrated graphically on large screens. This was repeated after the debate and the proposers of the motion had managed to increase support for their argument to win the debate.

After the debate, a representative from the university spoke about the huge advantage of having foreign language skills. She emphasised how in the ever competitive jobs market knowledge of more than one language would open doors for young graduates.

Although the journey up and down the A9 took over 6 hours, the opportunity to witness such linguistic skill and diverse cultural views was well worth it. At least on the return journey, we had the chance to ‘refuel’ at MacDonald’s where no translation was necessary!

For more information, click HERE.

Modern Languages Department

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