A Content Analysis Study of the Debates from the 2007 Taipei High School Cicero English Debate Tournament

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Since 2004 the Educational Department of Taipei City Government has been annually holding an English policy debate contest, called the Taipei High School Cicero English Debate Tournament. Because of this interscholastic event, the long neglect of debate as a pivotal pedagogical vehicle in high school English curriculums in Taiwan may finally stand a chance for change. While the competition warrants applause for its intended goals, it is unclear to what extent the participants of this competitive event, which was in its fifth year of existence, had grasped the spirit and essence of a competitive English policy debate. To answer that question, a content analysis was applied to eight debate matches randomly selected from the 2007 Cicero Debate Tournament with a focus on the contentions in debate speeches and questioning and responding strategies and techniques in cross-examinations. It was found that (a) affirmative and negative contentions were not constructed or clearly phrased around the stock issues of a policy debate, (b) contentions were not supported by evidence and thus were merely assertions, (c) the evidence cited did not speak cogently for the contention and its citation was incomplete, (d) appropriate and concise debate language was missing, and (e) cross-examination was misused or ineffectively executed. All these flaws or inadequacies suggest a lack of comprehensive understanding by the participants (debaters and coaches alike) about the nature and basic requirements of an English policy debate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • English debate
  • policy debate
  • content analysis
  • Cicero Debate Tournament
  • high school


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