An Individualized Chinese Learning Experience
Welcome to Chinese Debate International. It is a loose collaborative effort between several Chinese debate instructors and my family.
I am a front-line physician parent whose two daughters were among the first competitors in American secondary schools to compete at Debate Asia in 2019, an annual international Chinese debate tournament in Asia typically held around late July each year. Chinese debate is an excellent extracurricular activity for students whose Chinese speaking parents hope to pass on their cultural heritage and for students who hope to learn a second language with international reach. For students with relatively proficient Chinese, debate is the ideal extracurricular activity to accomplish all that, since it employs all aspect of language learning, mainly listening (comprehending opponent's contention), speaking (deliver one's own contention), reading (script and research), and writing (typing out debate script). The difficulty has been two folds though. First, there are few Chinese debate coaches here in the US. Second, students capable of and interested in participating in Chinese debates are spread out. Getting everyone together is a daunting task.
Then came COVID-19 in 2020 The rapid acceptance of online instruction led to new possibilities, allowing Chinese debate classes to flourish online. It is now possible to have Chinese debate coaches in Asia instruct students in the US or all over the world via video conference software such as Zoom.
We therefore collaborate with elite current or former Chinese debate college students in Taiwan starting around July of 2020 to bring about beginner debate classes mostly for students age ~8-13 and later Chinese read-aloud classes for students age ~7 to 9. I screen students and, at this stage, only accept students into our beginner debate program who are fairly fluent in colloquial Chinese and have fairly good Chinese reading proficiency for their age. For our read-aloud classes, I do a quick screening as well and only accept students who are competent in basic character recognition and read-aloud. Ideally, they are very familiar with zhuyin or pinyin. For these classes, students are able to switch between the types of classes and level of classes at any time as long as there are openings. The goal of the Chinese-read-aloud classes is to get students to be proficient in reading aloud debate script towards the end so they may join one of the beginner Chinese debate classes and later intermediate debate classes. We organize intramural debate opportunities for the students to participate in and the coaches seek out available international debate tournament opportunities for our students as well.
If your child is interested in our Chinese debate or read-aloud program, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Oliver Tu, MD