The debate is an important and engaging form of discussion, carried out in classrooms, at dinner parties, and between presidential candidates. This week at the A.C.E. Language Institute at SPU, Olivia Zhu’s Level 5 Listening & Speaking course debated one of our most pressing and controversial issues: illegal immigration.
Much like in the college classroom, this debate followed certain guidelines. The class divided into two teams of three; JiEun Kim, Ayat Mohammed and Yuwapak (Gift) Saktangcharoen represented the affirmative side, positing that illegal immigrants should be legalized. Meanwhile, Yazeed Alhumaidan, Adham Almatani and Feras Alnadir argued that illegal immigration should be halted. Each team had five minutes to present their thesis and opening statements. They were then given ten minutes to form their rebuttals after which they presented those arguments for ten minutes.
In order to be successful, debaters must master the ins and outs of their topic. They must be persuasive, arguing their points succinctly and with backed sources. The affirmative side used a diverse array of sources – from legal documents to research papers to news articles – to contend that immigration should be legalized. Most convincingly, they used financial statistics to argue that legalizing immigrants would generate $7 billion in tax revenue while saving the $5 billion used last year for deportations.
Debaters must also use their rebuttal time strategically, tackling the opposing side’s points while also upholding their own statements. The negative side rebutted the affirmative side’s financial statistics, arguing that the process of legalizing immigrants would be expensive. They connected this rebuttal to one of their main points: taking care of illegal immigrants is a financial burden the United States should not have to carry, especially during an economic recession.
After a thought-provoking half-hour of debate, audience members voted on whether or not their original position on illegal immigration had changed. Four people had shifted from being unsure to standing on the affirmative side, while one unsure person switched to a negative position. Although the rocking all-girl side won, both teams truly excelled at the debate, not only mastering their topic but the art of the debate. That this enlightening conversation happened at 8 AM on a Friday morning is even more cause for celebration!
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