At the 2002 Worlds Council countries were invited to submit a report to the council to let other nations know about debating in their country. It was not compulsory but a number of nations gave reports.
Report on Debating in Germany to 2002 Worlds Council
By Jan Hessbruegge
(German Representative on Worlds and European Debating Council)
Germany is still part of the „third world of debating“. However in our case the term „developing world“ would not only be more politically correct, but also indeed more appropriate. Debating in Germany is currently developing at a fast pace.
I. University Debating in Germany
At the present point in time there about 15 different debating societies at various institutions of tertiary education. This number constantly grows though. The first club (Tuebingen) was founded in 1991. Most clubs have evolved independently from each other, some being inspired by debating clubs at English-speaking institutions, others not. Generally speaking clubs debate in German, although there are exceptions (e.g. Cologne). Due to their independent formation, there is no common format used. Some clubs use British Parliamentary Style (i.e. „Worlds Style“) or something fairly similar, others debate in totally different formats.
Not least to these differing styles, there has not been a Common German Championships so far. However, this year tournaments both in German and in English are to be held, which in all likelihood will use Worlds Style as a basis.
Germany has started to compete at international competitions in recent years. Teams from Muenster competed at Worlds 2001 and Europeans 2000. At Europeans 2001 six teams from three different debating clubs took part, with a Muenster team reaching the ESL finals. Future years will see a far greater involvement of German teams as the clubs (and their potential sponsors) are being informed about the international dimension of debating.
There exists a common web-site of German debating clubs: www.debattierclubs.de/unis
II. Highschool Debating in Germany
There are very few debating clubs in German schools, though some have been newly founded in recent years. A listing of the ones existing can be found at www.debattierclubs.de/schulen.
III. Institutions of tertiary education
Germany has a state system of tertiary education.
Hochschulen, Fachhochschulen and Universitaeten can be considered to be genuine universities. At a university level there exists no real differentiation between an undergraduate and a graduate level. After graduation students can choose to pursue a Dissertation (PhD) though. In this phase they are still immatriculated as students but do generally not have lectures.
Some university careers e.g. in law or education have a two-stage education. Following university graduation students get a practical education (so called Referandarzeit) of 1-2 years. During this time they continue to have some lectures and tutorials while working. Their degree is only thought to be achieved upon completion of this second stage. The case of these Referandare is therefore somewhat comparable to the case of the British Inns (...[disclaimer] taking in full account the complexity of the issue of the Inns and not wishing to assert any point of view in this matter)
There are also Berufsschulen (professional schools), that supplement a practical apprenticeship in various trades crafts, trades and professions. These schools cannot be considered to be universities.
In addition to all these state instituions there various private institutions. Some, namely Universitaet Witten-Herdecke, European School of Business, and Hamburg Law School, can be considered to be universities. The status of others would have to be determined on a case by case basis.
Germany is clearly an ESL-country. At home as well as in schools and universities German is lingua franca. Students start to learn English as their first foreign language at the age of ten years.