Congratulations to Chanakan Wittayasakpan and Chayaton Subchavaroj, 4th year students from the Faculty of Arts and the Chulalongkorn Business School, for winning the English debating competition during the Asian British Parliament Debating Championship 2021, on 22-31 October 2021.
Organized by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), and Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE), the competition was one of the largest English online debating championships in history, combining two Asian English debating competitions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year’s competition drew 192 teams from 179 academic institutions in China and other Asian countries.
Chanakan and Chayaton revealed that the debate topics were diverse: politics, foreign, economic, social, feminists, minorities, and gender equality. During the debate, each team got 15 minutes to prepare before taking turns speaking for 7 minutes. For the final round, the team performing as the proposition received the topic on “Technology to erase sadness should be allowed to use”. They added that compared to things that already exist in today’s world, the topic was rather abstract and it became difficult to create ideas clearly. Fortunately, extra reading got them better prepared and more ready to speak on the topic.
Both Chanakan and Chayaton primarily studied by listening to lectures and watching debating competitions on YouTube. Moreover, they prepared for a variety of topics, practiced and tried to collected as much knowledge as possible, including the one-year experience they gained from other matches, under the supervision of Dr. Bhanubhatra Jittiang.
The two students regularly practiced at the Chulalongkorn University English Debate Society under great support from the Office of Student Affairs, Chulalongkorn University. At the same time, whenever they noticed that they were inferior at any point, they practiced more. To de-stress, as needed, their strategy was to switch into listeners rather than debaters.
Both agreed that teamwork was the key to success, as they have been practicing together for a long time, starting from the freshman year. Each knew how and what the other was thinking, and what needs to be added. This was significant for their progress towards the most crucial component of the debate.
Chanakan and Chayaton reflected that the debating competition has definitely broadened their views. Because of the numerous societal topics, it is vital to understand the world from various perspectives. The competition has made them feel exceptional, since they could surpass their own standards from the previous debates and could stand at a point they have never been. “It’s a fantastic experience”, they said.
The main challenge was on the debate topics, because some of the topics were unfamiliar. Another problem was with using English. Many teams were from countries with English as a primary language, but this forced them to improve themselves to compete better. Also, since the competition was online and in order to communicate more clearly, Chanakan and Chayaton had to adjust the way they spoke, knowing that it would affect how the judges heard their points and decide.
Two great debaters addressed the students, who aspire to be English debaters, and one said that, “I’d like you to continue practicing debating in English. The most important thing is to devote a significant amount of time to the debating competition, not to give up, and get into the essence of the debate. The use of English is not a barrier because thinking is the heart of the debate. If you can think analytically, you will be able to respond to the questions posed by your opponent, and that is deemed successful.”