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FLTRP Cup: Charter

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The 2006 FLTRP Charter. Bi-lingual edition available on the FLTRP Web Site.

PART I: GENERAL RULES

  1. INTRODUCTION

“FLTRP Cup” National English Debating Competition (hereafter referred to as “the Competition”) is the only national English debating event in China. Inaugurated in 1997, the Competition is organized by Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press (hereafter referred to as “FLTRP”), coordinated by English Speaking Union and China Universities English Speaking Association (now China English Language Education Association).

  1. FORM OF COMPETITION

The Competition adopts ‘parliamentary debating style’, as defined in Part II.

  1. QUALIFCATIONS FOR COMPETITION

A debater must be a registered full-time undergraduate of Chinese nationality in a Chinese territory educational institution (Those who have won overseas awards of the past CCTV Cup English Speaking Contest or past FLTRP Cup National English Debating Competition are excluded.).

PART II: RULES OF PARLIAMENTARY DEBATING STYLE

  1. The Competition shall be run in two main phases: Phase one, known as the ‘Preliminary Rounds’ and Phase two, known as the

‘Knock-out Rounds.’

  1. The First Round of Phase one will be randomly drawn, the match-ups announced, thirty minutes preparation time allowed.
  2. The preliminary rounds are power-paired in accordance with the following provisions.
    1. At the conclusion of each preliminary round, teams should be ranked in order of:
      1. The numbers of wins and losses of each team.
      2. The aggregate team points scored by a team
      3. Ballots (A 5:0 team with 14 ballots is ranked ahead of a 5:0 team with 12 ballots)
      4. Head to Head Record (if teams have met during one or more of the preliminary rounds).
    2. Then teams should be divided into pools according to the win-loss ratio.
    3. If there are an odd number of teams in a pool, a team will be randomly drawn from the pool below and placed into the upper pool.
    4. All teams in the pool are then ranked in order of their speaker points. The teams should then be paired in a “high-low” pattern, where the highest ranked team in a particular pool should meet the lowest team; the second ranked team should meet the second lowest, and so on.
  3. At the conclusion of Phase one, the top 16 ranked teams will advance to Phase two, the knock-out rounds. The various contests will be known as octofinals, quarterfinals, semifinals and the grand final.
  4. The team emerging victorious at the conclusion of the Grand Final will be recognized as the All-China Champions, and the institution they represent as Champion University/Institution for the year following.

PART III: THE FORMAT OF DEBATE

  1. A debate shall be adjudicated by a panel comprising an odd number of adjudicators, usually 3. One of these shall be designated as Chairperson by the organizers, and will function as Speaker. It’s compulsory for the tutor of each team to act as

adjudicator in the Competition.

  1. A debate shall be timed by a timekeeper.
  2. Each team will comprise the following members.
    1. GOVERNMENT
      1. Prime Minister.
      2. Member of the Government.
    2. OPPOSITION
      1. Leader of the Opposition.
      2. Member of the Opposition.
  3. Each debating team must be accompanied by an adjudicator.
  4. Debaters (or members) will speak in the following order:
    1. Prime Minister. (7 minutes)
    2. Leader of Opposition. (8 minutes)
    3. Member of the Government. (8 minutes)
    4. Member of the Opposition. (8 minutes)
    5. Leader of Opposition Rebuttal (4 minutes)
    6. Prime Minister Rebuttal (5 minutes)
  5. Points of Information
    1. POIs are comments made by members directed at the speech of the member holding the floor; POI should be brief, pertinent and preferably witty. Points of order and points of personal privilege are prohibited.
    2. A ‘Point of Information’ must be indicated by a member of an opposing team rising from his/her seat, placing one hand on top of his/her head and extending the other towards the member holding the floor. A member offering a Point of Information may draw attention to the offer by saying “on that point Sir/Madam,” or similar.
    3. A member holding the floor must respond to an opposing member, or members offering Points of Information, in one of the following ways:
      A clear gesture or hand signal rejecting the offer
      A verbal rejection of the offer
      verbal acceptance of the offer
    4. If a Point of Information is accepted, the point should be phrased as clarification, or comment, and made in two sentences (or less) within 15 seconds.
    5. If a Point of Information is accepted, the speaker accepting it must frame an answer or response to it within the context of his/her speech.
    6. Points of Information may be offered during the first four constructive speeches, after the first single knock of the gavel and up to the second single knock of the gavel. Points of Information may not be offered during the first and last minutes of constructive speeches. Points of Information may not be offered during final two rebuttal speeches.
    7. Speakers not ‘holding the floor’ may not rise during speech unless it is to offer a ‘Point of Information’. Speakers doing so, or considered to be heckling, barracking or whose behavior is interfering with the acceptable course of a debate will be declared ‘out of order’ or will be ‘called to order’ by the Chairperson.
    8. Points of information should be assessed according to the effect they have on both the cases of the offering team and the responding speaker (speech and team).
    9. Although not required to, each debater should attempt to take at least two points of information during a speech. The opposing side should attempt to rise at least four times for POIs in each constructive speech. Debaters who fail to seek opportunities to offer POIs or who fail to take POIs during their speech may be penalized by the adjudication panel.

PART IV: PREPARATION

  1. Venues to be announced before motions are revealed.
  2. Three motions are to be announced/revealed to teams 35 minutes prior to the commencement of debates in that round.
  3. The motion to be debated in a particular chamber between the teams matched therein is to be chosen in the following manner:
    1. The teams discuss preferred choices separately (less than 2 minutes). Teams should number the motions in order of their
    2. Teams compare preferences:
      1. third choice motions are automatically vetoed
      2. if teams’ first choice motion is the same, they debate that motion
      3. if teams’ first choice motions are different, but the third are the same, they toss a coin. Government representative calls

and if calling correctly, teams debate government’s first choice. If calling incorrectly, teams debate opposition’s first choice.

  1. The Government have the right to prepare in chambers (venue), the Opposition prepare in the appointed venue.
  2. Printed and prepared materials may be used during the thirty-minute preparation period. No access to electronic media

or electronic storage or retrieval devices is permitted after motions have been released. Printed and prepared materials may be accessed during a debate. The tutor has the right to help the debaters during the thirty-minute preparation.

  1. Teams must arrive at their chamber within five minutes of the scheduled/given time of commencement of debate. Teams failing to arrive in time will forfeit the debate, at the discretion of the chair of the panel.

PART V: TIMING

1. It is the duty of the timekeeper to time speeches. The timing of each speech starts at the moment that the member begins speaking.

2. Time signals will be given in the following manner i) Prime Minister (7 minutes) End of first minute - single knock of the gavel. / End of 6th minute - single knock of the gavel./ End of 7th minute - double knocks of the gavel. ii) Leader of Opposition, Member of the Government and Member of the Opposition (8 minutes) End of first minute - single knock of the gavel. / End of 7th minute - single knock of the gavel./ End of 8th minute - double knocks of the gavel. iii) Leader of Opposition Rebuttal (4 minutes) End of 1st minute - single knock of the gavel./ End of 3rd minute - single knock of the gavel. / End of 4th minute - double knocks of the gavel. iv) Prime Minister Rebuttal (5 minutes) End of 1st minute - single knock of the gavel./ End of 4th minute - single knock of the gavel. / End of 5th minute - double knocks of the gavel.

3. Overtime Speeches: Once the double knocks of the gavel has sounded, speakers have a 20-second ‘grace period’, during which they should conclude remarks already under contention. It is not a time for new matter to be introduced, and such new matter will be discounted by the adjudicators. Speakers continuing after this ‘grace period’ will be penalized in the Method category.

4. Under time Speeches: If the speaker concludes his/her speech on or near the second single knock of the gavel, he or she will not be penalized for an under time speech. However, if significantly under time, a speaker may be penalized under Method and possibly also under Matter. The latter, assuming that less matter was advanced, or that it was clearly underdeveloped.

PART VI: ADJUDICATION

  1. Debates in Phase one of the competition will be adjudicated by an odd number of adjudicators, preferably three adjudicators.
  2. Debates in Phase two of the competition will be adjudicated by a minimum of 5 adjudicators.
  3. Adjudicators will arrive at their decisions on an individual basis, fill in the necessary ballots and pass their completed forms and ballots to the timekeeper. Prior to the announcement of the decision, the Chair may call upon the other panel members for the purposes of discussion.
  4. At the end of a debate, Chair of a panel will announce the decision and give an oral adjudication within 15 minutes. This is to occur in every round of competitive debating except for the knockout rounds.
  5. In the event that the Chair is in the minority of the panel’s decision, he or she may call upon one of the other panel members to provide an oral adjudication.
  6. Chairs may not announce marks, nor indicate the margin of win/loss unless asked to by the Chief Adjudicator of the competition. All adjudicators are expected to observe the confidentiality of individual and team scores, and margins.
  7. Generally, adjudicators are required to fulfill four duties:
    • To take clear notes and decide which team won the debate;
    • To provide reasons for the decision with clarity and objectivity;
    • To score the debate to reflect the decision;
    • To provide teams and speakers with constructive feedback.

PART VII: DEFINITIONS AND CHALLENGE OF DEFINITION

  1. The definition is the interpretation of the motion as put forward by the Prime Minister in his opening remarks.
  2. The definition should be reasonable.
  3. The definition should state the issue or issues arising out of the motion to be debated, state the meanings of any terms in the motion requiring clarification and display clear and logical links to the wording and spirit of the motion.
  4. The definition should not be:
    1. A truism (a matter stated as fact). This refers to any Definition that forces the Opposition to counter an inarguable fact or truth, clearly an impossible task.
    2. A tautology (a definition which, in development, proves itself). (Because neither allows any reasonable substantive case to be mounted in opposition).
    3. Place set (setting an unnaturally restrictive geographical or spatial location as its major parameter).
    4. Time set (setting an unnaturally restrictive chronological duration as its main parameter). (Because neither allows the opposition reasonable access to Matter).
    5. Wholly unreasonable (displaying no clear or logical links to the original motion) that any person would question the validity,violates the principles of fairness, as it denies the opposition any ‘reasonable’ access to Matter and preparation).
  5. The Opposition may only challenge the definition advanced by the Government on the basis of one of the conditions outlined in

PART VII-4. The Opposition may not challenge a definition supplied by the Government on the basis that:

    1. The Opposition’s own definition is MORE reasonable.
    2. A better debate will result. Nor may the Opposition re-define terms or words contained in the motion so that a completely

different debate is thereby set up. However, an Opposition may contend with the specific or general approach to terminology supplied by the definition of the Government.

  1. If the definition advanced by the Leader of the Government contravenes any of the prohibitions set out in term PART VII-4,

the Opposition has the right to challenge the definition.

  1. The challenge must be made in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, following a clear statement that the definition is

being rejected.

  1. In the event of a challenge, the Leader of the Opposition must justify his/her rejection by supplying the grounds on which the

original definition has been rejected. Furthermore, a substitute definition must be supplied, which the Opposition benches must then go on to negate. If the Proposition insists its definition is debatable, then the Proposition must point out one way for the opposition to debate.

  1. The debate which follows is characterized by the use of the ‘even if’ argument, unless a truism has been categorically

exposed.

  1. If the Leader of the Opposition does not challenge the definition, no other speakers may do so.
  2. The onus to prove that a definition is unreasonable is on the Opposition.
  3. Adjudicators will not indicate during the debate which definition they find to be (more) acceptable. But he/she can take the

unreasonable definition drew by the Government into consideration.

  1. Neither team should abandon either the definitions or the challenges of its opening speakers.
  2. Definitions should not require members of the house to have access to, or possess, specific or expert knowledge.

PART VIII: MATTER

  1. ‘Matter’ relates to the issues in debate, the case being presented and the material used to substantiate argumentation.
  2. The issues under debate should be correctly prioritized (by teams) and ordered (by individuals), dealing with the most important/pertinent first.
  3. Matter should be logical and well reasoned.
  4. Matter should be relevant, both to the issue in contention and the cases being advanced.
  5. Matter should be persuasive.
  6. Matter will be assessed from the viewpoint of ‘the average reasonable person’. Adjudicators must disregard any special

knowledge they have, even though pertinent to the issues under debate.

  1. Bias will not affect an adjudicator’s assessment (objective) or evaluation (subjective) of a debate. Debaters must not be

discriminated against on the basis of religion, sex, race, fame of their university, sexual preference, age, social status, accent or any disability.

  1. No ‘new matter’ is to be introduced during Reply Speeches. The Reply Speech presents teams with an opportunity to focus on the

major issue(s) in the debate and the way in which both teams approach that ‘point of Clash’. The Reply Speech should also give an ‘optimistic overview’ of the general approach to the debate by both sides and focus on the relative merits of the case by the side Replying, and the relative weaknesses in the case of the opposing team.

  1. All speakers should develop ‘positive matter’ in advancing their respective cases. While an Opposition team may win by

demonstrating that the Government has not proved the motion true, they should not rely purely on their rebuttal of the Government case and will likely benefit from presenting positive matter in opposition to the motion.

PART IX: MANNER

  1. Manner refers to the presentation and delivery style of a speaker.
  2. The following list represents some of the elements which are, or may be, subsumed under Manner. The list is intended as a guide,

rather than as a number of marking categories. It is the combination of these elements (rather than the accomplishment of each), in various proportions that contributes to an individual speaker’s style. The major influence on an adjudicator must be: ‘Is the speaker’s Manner EFFECTIVE in advancing the case?’

    1. Vocal Style: Volume, clarity, pronunciation, pace, intonation, fluency, confidence, and authority.
    2. Language: Conversational.
    3. Use of notes: Should not distract, should not be read.
    4. Eye Contact: With audience.
    5. Gesture: Natural, appropriate.
    6. Sincerity: Believability.
    7. Personal Attacks: (derogatory comments are not to be tolerated).
    8. Humor: Effectiveness, appropriateness.
  1. Participants in FLTRP Cup must be aware that they will experience many different debating styles from the different universities and experience levels represented therein. There is no single ‘correct’ or ‘right’ style to adopt in this competition.
  2. Adjudicators of FLTRP Cup must be aware that for the participants, English is a foreign language. Consideration must be given to the Manner in which a debater presents his or her arguments, but English language competency should not be the exclusive or primary criterion on which an assessment of Manner is made.
  3. As with Matter (8.7) personal bias must not be allowed to influence an adjudicator’s assessment of Manner.

PART X: METHOD

  1. Method refers to the strategy and tactics employed by debaters and the teams they represent。
  2. The following list represents some of the elements which are, or may be, subsumed under Method. The list is intended as a guide, rather than as a number of marking categories. It is the combination of these elements (rather than the accomplishment of each), in various proportions that contributes to an individual speaker’s or team’s strategy. The major influence on an adjudicator must be: "Is the speaker’s and team’s Method EFFECTIVE in advancing the case?’
    1. Organization: The structuring of individual arguments and ordering of collective arguments in the speeches.
    2. Issue Selection: The identification of relevant points of clash in the round.
    3. Perspective: The ability to explain the relevance of individual arguments to the motion being argued.
    4. Refutation: The willingness and ability to engage and critique the points offered by the opposing team.
    5. Teamwork: The degree to which the members of a team work together to collectively advance a strategy.
  3. Participants in FLTRP Cup must be aware that they will experience many different debating strategies from the different universities and experience levels represented therein. There is no single ‘correct’ or ‘right’ strategy to adopt in this competition.
  4. As with Matter & Manner (Part VIII & IX) personal bias must not be allowed to influence an adjudicator’s assessment of Method.

PART XI: SCORING THE DEBATE

  1. There are no draws in competitive debating.
  2. Teams failing to turn up for the debate on time will lose the debate by the widest possible margin. The winning team in such a case will be given the mean average score for all other rounds debated in the tournament.
  3. Half points cannot be awarded.

Speaker Point Guidelines

Evaluating an oratorical effort is a subjective experience, based on the interpretations of individuals. Even in the face of that subjectivity, however, some standardization is possible.

Adjudicators should look to a speaker’s Matter, Manner and Method when assigning speaker points.

  • Matter relates to the issues addressed in the debate and the material used to substantiate argumentation. Adjudicators should evaluate the quality of the issues identified by the

debaters and the strength of the evidence offered to support the debater’s claims

  • Manner refers to the presentation and delivery of a speaker. Adjudicators should not assess debaters solely on their proficiency in English as a foreign language but should look

beyond proficiency to evaluate presentational efforts

  • Method refers to the strategy and tactics of the debaters. Adjudicators should evaluate how the debaters organized their individual speeches and whether they addressed the most relevant issues in the round. Adjudicators should also evaluate cooperation among team members to advance a consistent and coherent strategy.

Based on the above criteria, the guidelines below are intended to standardize adjudicators’ approaches to assigning Speaker Points to individual debaters. The guidelines rely on traditional conceptions of letter grades, where 90% performance and above constitutes a grade of “A;” 80% - 89% constitutes a “B,” and so on. Please use these guidelines when assigning Speaker Points.

Speaker Points Qualitative Significance

Speaker Points Qualitative Significance
45-above An outstanding speaker in almost every way. Exceeds the majority of expectations. Likely to be in late elimination rounds.
42-43 A solid speaker. Exceeds expectations in most areas. Likely to be in early elimination rounds.
39-41 An average speaker. Meets minimum expectations but does not exceed expectations. May or may not be in elimination rounds.
37-38 Below average speaker. Fails to meet most minimum expectations. Not likely to advance to elimination rounds.
36-below A poor speaker. Significant in his or her failure to meet even minimum expectations. Will not advance to elimination rounds.

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