Good arguments need lots of effort

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 March, 2002, 12:00am

I joined a debating workshop organised by Hong Kong Education City at the Space Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui earlier this month.

The speaker, an experienced campaigner from Oxford, said debating was fun. I was very much impressed by his speech and imagined myself standing on the stage.

Later we were given the motion: 'This house supports the use of death penalty.'

Three of us from our school chose to be members of the opposition team. I felt scared, but also excited. Most of the students had a good command of English and some were from international schools. When people took the stage to speak, I kept thinking of scoring points while listening to the speakers. A boy beat me to the rebuttal I had in mind. I tried to think about it from another angle and grew extremely nervous.

Our host indicated that he would like to hear from us. I looked up and decided not to hesitate. I walked to the stage, my mind a blank. I tried to be calm. When I was presenting my case, the audience stirred. It was awful. They might have been laughing at my poorly organised speech. But it didn't stop me, as I put across my points. I listened to the host even more attentively. A good debater should have a quick mind, a good knowledge of current events, good listening skills and also good English.

How can you express your wonderful ideas if you can't speak English well? The workshop has taught me something: if you don't try, you'll never learn.

Tung-ni is a sixth form student at Kit Sam Lam Bing Yim Secondary School