Debating 2014-2015

Dear all,

The debate term 2014-2015 is ahead so here’s some information and important dates before that. We warmly welcome both old and new debate teachers to join us!

The debating activities consist of three things; a kick-off event for teachers in August, workshops at schools along the autumn and the Final Tournament in January.

At the kick-off event in Tampere in August we have two tracks; one for those who aren’t familiar with debating yet and the other for those who’d like to learn more. We will spend the afternoon together checking the plans for next year. Also this year each school will get a contact person from the university debating societies. We’ll meet some of them at this event too. For this event we’re hoping to get tentative registrations by the 6th of June. We’ll send more information for those registered at the end of the summer, closer to the event. We’re hoping that each school participating in debating activities would send at least one representative to ensure the same facts concerning the format and our events.

During the autumn it’s possible to organize area workshops held by the university debaters. You can plan the workshop together with them and they can help for example organizing a practise tournament, training the basics of debating or training of some specific skill area.
Again, the highlight of the year will be the Final Tournament, which will this year take place in Kouvola on the 24th-25th of January (Saturday-Sunday). We’re going to have an awesome weekend of debating and getting to know each other. Each school can register one team. The team cap for the tournament will be 20 teams, and they will be filled in order of registration (opens later in the autumn). The judges in the tournament will be experienced university debaters.

In all of the events we are using the international World Schools Debating format, but with 6 -minute constructive speeches and 4 –minute reply speeches. There will be no open/floor debate (questions from the audience). The decision was made on the basis of the feedback from this year’s tournament.

Registrations by e-mail to
Important dates:
6.6. Registration deadline for the kick off event
16.8. Kick-off event at Tampereen yhteiskoulun lukio
Autumn Workshops
24. – 25.1.2015 The Finals, Kouvolan Lyseon lukio

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer!
All the best,
Aira Ranta
Debate Co-Ordinator, Federation of Finnish-British Societies
050 533 5912

Helsinki Open 2014 Debating Tournament

Helsinki Debating Society and Aalto Debating Society are proud to invite you to the biggest-ever Finnish international debating tournament in Helsinki.

Check it out here!

Helsinki Open 2014 will be hosted from the 16th to the 18th of May. This British Parliamentary tournament will have five preliminary rounds, break to semifinals and a final, all with seven-minute speeches.

For the first time, the tournament will be open for debaters worldwide! The team cap is higher than ever with 32 teams. The n-1 rule applies to Nordic and Baltic societies, while for others it is n-2. The CA-team will be announced shortly.

The registration is now open:–RE3GkJ3wdFs/viewform

High School Debating Tournament

The National High School Debating Tournament
took place in Helsinki on 12th and 13th December.

On Thursday 12th at Ressun Lukio on Kalevankatu 8 there were 3 rounds, one being an impromptu round. This was a great and lively day for everyone, taking place between noon and nine o’clock in the evening.

On the morning of Friday 13th, between 9.30am and 2.00pm, we were welcomed to the British Emassy by the Ambassador, Matthew Lodge, following which the semifinals took place.. The four teams through to these semifinals were:-

Etelä-Taipiolan lukio
Rolle Rantaniemi
Daniel Cohen
Toomas Pitkänen
Teacher Marjut Sadeharju

Tampereen yhteiskoulun lukio
Sofia Levonen
Roni Rinne
Liekki Valaskivi
Teacher Kristiina Leskinen

Helsingin suomalainen yhteiskoulu
Maria Puolakkainen
Julia Ramula
Totti Tyynilä
Teacher Agnieszka Janus-Hiekkaranta

The English School Helsinki
Pyry Ahtiainen
Marcel Erkko
Matti Vuorinen
Teacher Lissy Clement

and lastly….
The Final

This took place between the teams from Helsinki’s The English School and Tampere’s yhteiskoulun lukio. The winner was The English School. They win €1500 for the team to take part in the European tournament. An article on the tournament will appear shortly on the Debating Club blog.

We must give big thanks to Ressun lukio school for hosting the first day and to the British Embassy for hosting the second day. Also we thank the Debating Coordinator, Aira Ranta and all those other University Debaters who gave time and commitment to running workshops around the country and judging in the tournament.

Motions for Finnish National Schools Debating Championships 2013

Dear all,

there’s exactly one month to our tournament, so here are the motions to prepare for Finnish National Schools Debating Championships 2013 on the 12th and 13th of December:

This house believes that EU should put pressure on Israel to give up its nuclear weapons.
This house would set minimum educational standards for politicians
This would punish the parents of obese children
This house would punish celebrities more severely for crimes committed

These are not in a particular order. Two of these will be in preliminary rounds, one in semi-finals and one will be the motion for the final. In addition we’ll have one impromptu motion as a preliminary round. You’ll get one hour to prepare for that motion before the round.

Have fun preparing, good luck !

Useful links for preparation

Dear debaters,

the National Championships tournament is approaching fast and many of you have probably already gotten started with coaching and practicing.
Remember that you’ll get the motions on 14th of November and after that your tutors can’t help with preparation anymore since many of them are also judging. So act fast if there’s still something you need help with!
Here are some useful links that might help too:

Debate video blog is filled with amazing training videos by some of them best debaters in the world:
These are World Schools Debating format videos, but many of the others on the wed site might be useful too.

Debate central offers other kinds of learning sources as well:

Here’s the adjudication video I’ve mentioned earlier:

And here you can find hundreds of motions by themes with points for and against:

Hope you can find these useful!
I’ll get back to you as soon as possible with more information about the tournament.

All the best,

Turku Debating Tournament

Welcome to Turku Open 2013!
(for more details see here)

A wonderful journey begins today with the final destination, on the 25th of October, in the oldest city of Finland, Turku! We are delighted to invite you to our home, the University of Turku, in the land of a thousand lakes for three legendary days!

Why you should come?

Because you love debate and we promise you amazing motions, a well-known CA, great judges and a friendly environment to start the new debating-academic year in the best way possible! Whether you are a beginner or a veteran you’ll find your match, so don’t forget to pack your best arguments…

Because you love traveling and Turku is a beautiful place to see! Our city at the mouth of the Aura River used to be the capital of Finland and remains one of the most important cities of the country. A walk close to the river or past the Cathedral will be enough to steal your heart, so don’t forget to pack your cameras…

Because you love meeting new people and having fun and we can guarantee you both! Our socials will introduce you to the famous night-life of Turku and you will have the ultimate experience of participating in a traditional Finnish sit-sit party, so make sure you’ll pack your best mood…

Why you shouldn’t miss it?

…because you will dearly regret it!

To recap:

Three days, at least 5 motions, a beautiful city, new people and loads of fun…

Are you playing?

Important Dates

Hi everyone!

Here are some important things + dates to remember now that our debate year is about to start!

This year every school can send one team (3 debaters) for the final tournament in Helsinki in December. We are ready for about 20 teams so be quick to register and secure your spot!

13.9. Last day to register your school’s team
(+do you need accommodation)
1.9. – 13.11 area workshops
14.11 Motions announced
31.11 Names of the participants
12.-13.12. The Final Tournament

You can register your team in September and the names in November by sending an e-mail to

Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with.

Best debate regards,
Debate Coordinator

This house believes …

This is a FinnBrit Feature from the Federation of Finnish British Societies magazine.

This House Believes by AiraRanta

‘This house believes that debating is the best thing you can get from high school.’
Boy, had I known where those English classes in high school would take me! In the beginning, I hesitated to take part in debating activities, but now I’m forever grateful for the encouragement of my high school teachers.

Firstly, tools from debating improve your studying techniques. They provide the means to deal with a variety of complicated subjects, find various perspectives, and write or talk about them logically. Many have said that taking part in one single debate has changed their way of thinking, making it more critical, quick and diverse. We debaters have realised that we often automatically start to cover issues as widely as possible and bring missing arguments to the table – whether we personally think so or not.
(You can ask my friends whether they find this a useful skill or not).

‘My debating experience has opened doors at university.’
Secondly, my debating experience has opened some special doors at university, too. I study administrative science and, due to a professor excited about debating, I immediately got to research how debating fits into the political- administrative field. In my bachelor’s thesis, I studied what systematical debating is and how it could be used to make decision-making more efficient. While doing this, I’ve had interesting chances to cooperate with both our university staff and some politicians.
I definitely think that open debate is the key to real democracy and the foundation for quality dialogue – when participants are able to see and admit that nothing is black and white, and grounds for almost any statement can be found. There’s an increasing demand for knowledge of debating in many fields and it has become hip in public discussion. So not only is it useful, it is in fashion, too.
However, the salt in this whole thing for me is to be part of a community of debaters and have fun with amazing people. In high school, I got to go to Idea Youth Forums in Istanbul and the Netherlands, where we practised debating with young students from over thirty different countries. I’d say that those experiences are the reason I’m still so into this and have continued after high school. Getting to see debates from judges’ and coaches’ points of view has only made the hunger grow. I’ve been mesmerised by the current performances and enthusiasm of our debating high schools.

‘I think that open debate is the key to real democracy.’
Growing into the identity of a debater doesn’t really make life more simple, quite the contrary. But it does add a little confidence to confront all those complex issues in the world, everyday life and growing up.
(And sometimes, it can even solve the problems of those previously mentioned friends).

‘The survival skills you need today are to know how to think and talk.’
In my opinion, the survival skills you need today are to know how to think and talk. After you survive a furious debate about abolishing the ED, not many conversations feel so frightening anymore.
To conclude, ladies and gentlemen, is there more you can ask from a hobby and a high school activity than for it to give you the tools to deal with a wide range of life issues, to give you friends all around the globe, and to maybe help you write slightly better English essays?

For all these reasons, I want to do my best to help encourage high schools to take up debating and develop in it.
I urge you to propose the motion.

A brief history of Finnish High School English Debating

This is a FinnBrit Feature from the Federation of Finnish British Societies magazine.
Written by Tuula Penttilä

The first debating competition was organised in 1996. The English Speaking Union in Finland (ESU) contacted me, as chair of the Association of English Teachers in Finland, to find out whether there was any interest in a high school debating competition. At that time, debating was not very common in our schools and the association welcomed this initiative. ESU Finland was responsible for the venue and prizes, while the Association of English Teachers coordinated the competition. Valerie Vainonen from ESU chaired the finals.
We invited fifteen schools from around Finland to participate in the first competition. Twelve took part and Vasa Övningsskola won. For the next competition, we divided the country into eight regions with a school responsible for organising the semifinal. The final took place in Helsinki, and the winning team from Helsingin I normaaalikoulu went to London to watch the British debating final.
ESU London provided us with the rules, which we adjusted slightly to the needs of our students. Teams initially consisted of two debators, but this was changed to three in 2012 to comply with the European competition model. Allotted speech times were also reduced and points of information excluded. Points of information are now accepted again, and that has made debates livelier.
In 2003, ESU Finland ceased operating and the Federation of Finnish British Societies took over organisation of the competition. The British embassy provided the venue. With Mara Salo’s valuable help, I continued coordinating until 2007 when Mike Davis from Finn-Brit Tampere took over. Aira Ranta is the current coordinator.
From the outset, we had an annual discussion on whether we should have different categories for students from Finnish/Swedish-speaking schools and IE/English-speaking schools. At that time, there were not that many IE/English -speaking schools and we had only one category. After some years, we decided to exclude students whose first language was English. Not everybody was happy.
In 2011, we had two categories: one for Finnish/Swedish-speaking schools and one for
English-speaking ones. In the first category, there were eight teams from several semifinals and in the second category two teams without any semifinals.
In 2012, there were two finals: one for Finnish-speaking schools (in Tampere) and one for
English-speaking ones (in Helsinki). There will be only be one category in the future, as Finnish teams now participate in international competitions. Our students’ level of spoken English in Finnish/Swedish-speaking schools does not substantially differ from that of students from IE and international schools. The jury can concentrate on the content of the debate and the competitors’ debating skills rather than their knowledge of English.
‘Everybody needs debating skills.’
There have been years when it has been difficult – even impossible – to find enough schools to participate. Teachers felt that they had not been trained to teach debating and that there wasn’t time for debating in the strict curriculum. ESU organised a seminar for teachers in 2003. The instructor was sponsored by the International ESU. The Federation of Finnish-British Societies organised annual seminars in Helsinki and, when Mike Davis stepped in, he continued the seminars in Tampere. We provided teachers with videos of the finals. The Association of English Teachers published a purchasable video with an introduction to debating.
Everybody needs debating skills, but debating has not been taught at school as it has been in Britain. Lately, debating skills have been practised in the first language classes and gradually in FL classes. Teams’ successes have been greatly due to the dedication of English teachers and principals’ attitudes. Most practice has been done after school hours, when it should be included in the curriculum. Debating is an excellent method of practicing spoken language while having something important to speak about.
At the end of every debating competition, I can see how much the competitors have enjoyed it.
Organising the competition has been pretty hard work, but also extremely rewarding. I’ve been able to see a huge development, both in language skills and debating skills, since when we started in 1996.