Common Strategic Competence Employed By Senior High School Debaters (PBING-16)

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1.1 Background of the Study

English debate is nowadays widely known among senior high school students especially in Semarang. This activity has been something popular for its image among both students and English teachers. They think of this activity as something outstanding. This thought may appear due to the fact that not many students of senior high school are able to do so. Only those who are at least capable in producing oral communication in English will be chosen as debater. Referring to this assumption, it is no wonder that the number of English debaters is not of great significance compared with the whole number of students in general.

The effort of facilitating this great potential has been done. It is proven that many competitions among high schools and vocational schools have been conducted recently. In fact, this effort gains so much attention and respect from several parties. They are students as the agent, teachers as the supporters, and frequently may collaborate with the government as the facilitator through Department of Education to present debate competitions. The question that may arise upon this notion is how it gains such great attention.

On the one hand, if we see this fact from the perspective of students’
cognitive aspect, we come into the answer that debate itself will stimulate the
students to have good understanding of what happens around them. It deals with how they cope with the current issues and how they position themselves as humans who have great faith in their own thought or idea upon the issues. This thought is not merely for the sake of their own, it is to be believed by others. In short, we can say that debate can be used as a tool to prepare students to cope with social life.

On the other hand, if we see this fact from the perspective of linguistic knowledge, debate can be used as a tool to train students to use the language practically. In relation to English language learning, it is actually the implementation of language in use; that is oral communication.

Those two elements mentioned above, as the answer of the question arises, carry a comprehensive concept. This concept constitutes the reason why debate necessarily affects one’s mindset and the need of debaters to convince the adjudicators that somehow their case is logical, reliable, convincing, and therefore undefeatable. To reach this point, a debater should have the competence that will ease them in carrying his massage through speech so that it becomes comprehensible and convincing to the adjudicators as the decision makers of the winning. Since it deals with the massage being conveyed and the language being employed, one way to overcome this is to have what so called communicative competence. As stated by Hymes (1972), communicative competence is the knowledge which enables someone to use a language effectively for real
communication which involves two or more speakers. These speakers interact
each other in the form of oral communication and stimulate each other to respond what each says.
Briefly, communicative competence is really needed in anytime and anywhere to present nearly perfect performance. Debate, in this case, is one of the examples where a speaker is supposed to be able to convey massages or cases comprehensively and to respond what other speakers say. This fact is exactly the main idea of what a debate is intended to be.

The component of communicative competence that relates to the way each speaker maintains and sustains his communication is what we call strategic competence or communicative strategy. This competence is deemed to be the last but practical choice if the speakers are lacking of linguistic competence. When they are in this very situation, communication breakdown is so much possible to occur.
Problem in oral communication, especially for those learning a foreign language, may coincide with the insufficient knowledge in that language. In relation to this, Willing once declared that communication to some degree is problematic since people communicating may fail to discover that they do not understand each other fully due to lack of common vocabulary or common background, or perhaps due to different attitudes (1992: 1). A debater may say “a…a... what is it?” during his speech when he forgets some massage or some lexical items to be delivered.

If breakdown occurs in debate and the debaters fails to compensate it, their
performance will be less convincing and finally it will influence the adjudicator’s
judgment about which team deserves the winning. Therefore, having good strategic competence is deemed to be crucial for them as merely debaters and as students basically whose background is academic institution.

From this long elaboration, we have seen the pedagogical idea implied in a debate that somehow becomes the major point of our discussion. Since I am engaged in a society dealing with debate namely English Debate Society (EDS) and engaged in educational program, it becomes a great importance for me to analyze some strategies employed by debaters during their speeches.
Being a judge, or usually called as adjudicator, in several English debate competitions also drives my curiosity upon how debaters maintain their speeches to give more assurance on their cases.

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