Course Q & A

1. What courses should they take?

If you have no experience in debate or “Root Words,” you should definitely do root words first. Then after two months of this, take “News Presentation,” and other grade appropriate classes according to the ADL Recommendation Chart. Our roots word class is even good for high school children. This is a good skill to have for the SAT.

Root word is an amazing class that teaches children to understand the basic fundamental of the English language. The reason we start with root word is because by learning roots words they will improve in reading. In debate, they need to read a lot of evidence from News Paper, books etc. So if they come upon words they don’t know they can at least guess the meaning. Then after roots words, “News Presentation” (in order to train them to read, understand, and present evidence), “Refutation,” and “Smart Debate.” After all these classes, they can start to take Public Form Debate and/or Parliamentary Debate, then Policy debate, which is most difficult.  

2. When will the courses be opened?

Classes don’t begin until the minimum number of students designated for each class have registered. When student number for a particular class is not adequate, you will be on the waiting list when you register until the class gets filled up. For example, for Debate and Root words, the minimum number of students is 16-20. The reason is you need at least 8 – 10 pair to do in-class debate tournaments. We will have tournaments with-in your own group so they can increase their skill as debaters. Since every class level is different it is essential that the class learn together as a group. We will also combine other classes later on as their levels enhance. Then it really becomes fun where, regardless of age or grade, same level debaters compete against each other.

You can also help us speed up the process by recruiting your own friends to the class, especially your own debate partner. Otherwise, you will be assigned to a partner by the instructor and you will not be allowed to personally choose your own partner.

3. Can both of my kids attend the same class? 

Yes, that is acceptable for most of the classes. For example, my son is in 10th grade and my daughter is in7th, but they debated as a team in our summer camp. Please review the ADL Recommendation Chart for more detail on age and grade appropriate classes.

4. What if I paid and the courses do not get opened?

Classes don’t begin until the minimum number of students designated for each class have registered. When student number for a particular class is not adequate, you will be on the waiting list when you register until the class gets filled up. If for some reason, we cannot open the class, you have two choices: 1) be on the wait list, 2) ask for refund and wait until next term. 

5. Where is the camp being held?

We have several options, and they are mostly located within the city of Taipei. More details will be posted when the decision is made. 

6. Can we get evaluated?

For some classes such as the PSAT classes, the first day of class is spent as an evaluation period. From the assessment of each student’s performance, specifically tailored instruction is planned and taught. However, for many of the beginner’s class such as root words, it is open to all students without evaluation, since most of it is based on student’s ability to learn new words and memorize.

7. Would you say that winter camp is good for them or regular once a week debate class?

Definitely regular class and winter camp. My daughter had all the classes. When TDA first began, the classes met twice a week, but now it is adjusted to once a week to offer convenience to students and parents.  Back then, we started with roots words, then current news (reading and understanding the evidences) refutation and speech. After all this, they started to do Public Form Debate, then finally Policy debate. Then we had a Spring Camp in Taipei in April, which my daughter attended for the entire week. After that, in June we went to States to compete at the NJFL Nationals. Them immediately after the NJFL, our students headed to a 2 week summer camp at Notre Dame, Maryland. This year, ADL students will attend the Stanford University summer camp, even a notch higher than the place we went last time. My daughter is the same age as yours. I am also a TAS parent. The reason I am promoting debate is because from my own personally experience, my daughter has learned tremendously from all of these. I hope I answered all your questions.

8. When or how regularly do you hold debate tournaments? Where is the ADL Schedule? 

Please look under the tab calledTournamentson our website. ADL schedule is the first one on the list. This will let you see the most updated, tentative ADL Calendar. Click the page you want to see, and enlarge it a couple of times for a better view.

Student who would like to compete, must register with the coach in advance. If some of the ADL tournament dates conflict with your other activities, please let your coach know that you cannot attend. We don’t change a tournament date and time for a few students, and do not give a credit for your absence. Each tournament held subsumes one class period. Therefore, one class before or after can be cancelled as a substitution for ADL tournament.

10. I am afraid the vocabulary ADL teaches my kids are too much and too difficult.

No, it isn’t; Consider the following:

1. Kids don’t discriminate and process like we adults do and say this word is “too difficult” or “too easy” because to them all things are new. To kids, they cannot even define what is “difficult.” They just think, I have not learned it yet.

2. Kids’s frontal lobe is soft and not hardened, meaning they can actually “register, process, and memorize” more information compared to adults whose brain is already hardened.

3. Kids have super “audible” ability, meaning they will absorb and memorize whatever they listen to from my recordings, even without thinking about how difficult it is – e.g., Kang Chiao G4 kids and even their siblings in G1,2,3 memorized root words just by listening to it.

4. If they want their kids’ English level to be as just as good as the kids in the U.S., then they have to allow us to challenge their kids’ current English level.

5. Building larger “vocabulary repertoire” is the “secret weapon and a true asset” to mastering any foreign language. Without it, they will always struggle.

11. Why Beginner Debate Class size is big?

1. Debate is about learning multiple perspectives to respond in multiple ways in a fast and logical manner. High level of critical thinking can only be developed if your child is constantly challenged by other smart kids in the class. Conversely, in a smaller class, kids become too accustomed to the limited minds and voices of their classmates, thus lack high level of engagement and stimulation. You can be assured that in a bigger class, there will be students who will challenge your child more frequently, differently, and deeply, ultimately helping your child to cultivate a quick mind that can absorb, analyze, and respond to various attacks.

2. Debate class needs to be big because it requires partners with whom we organize tournaments. For example, 2 students form one team, so a class of 16 kids actually means 8 or less debate teams. Likewise, a class of 12 kids means 6 teams, and so forth. If the number is too low, the class cannot be sustained in the long run because tournaments are the pumping heart for debate.

3. Over 20% of the students drop every year from debate training for various reasons: A) too difficult; B) too time-consuming; C) time conflict with school activities; D) transfer or move to a different area; and, E) simply hate arguing and find debate meaningless like my own daughter.  Similar to most kids learning to play the piano when they are young, but only a few of them continue in middle and high school, in debate, student retention rate is low.

4. Jessie’s experience: My son, Brandon, started debate with almost 50 TAS 5th grade classmates, but only 2 of his friends were still with him when he was in 11th grade. As a result, Brandon couldn’t attend the 2014 U.S. NSDA tournament because he couldn’t find a partner from his cohort. Jessie, heartbroken for her son, sobbed for three days. Debate is a long-term endeavor, by being shortsighted and trying to limit the class size now, you will one day cry in tears like me.

5. How can a CEO of ADL not find a partner for her own son in 2014? You will realize this as your child becomes more advanced in debate, your child will seek a partner “only” from his/her original cohort, people who are “at least equal if not better” in debate skills. This is why in 2014 my 8th grade son with 3 years of debate experience did not want his mom to find him a partner with only 1/2 years of experience, as he knew that by being with a novice partner, he would not have a fighting chance in the U.S. This is why we need to make sure the original class is big enough, so that after everyone quits, there will be still some left to debate with in the future.

6. Finally, debate is a team sport, not an individual activity. So, if you are against the big class size now at a beginning level, when your child is older, you will experience difficulty in finding your child a suitable partner. Therefore, even if s/he wanted to continue to debate, your child might quit debate prematurely. So, please think long term, as debate class size will shrink gradually as they get more advanced for the reasons I have mentioned above.


12 How Can We Resolve Partnership Issues?


1. For in-class practice debates, teacher arranges.

2. But for paid tournaments, students have the right to choose their own partners, since they are paying for the tournament. For example, students would rather not attend the tournament, if they don’t like their partner.

3. ADL coaches intervene ONLY if there is a problem. For example, if a kid wants to attend a tournament, but cannot find a partner, ADL coach will do his/her best to help find one.


1. There is a short term benefit of a strong partner; that is, you are more likely to win. For example, a weak debater will benefit and might even win with a strong debater.

2. But interestingly and most importantly, there is also a long-term benefit of a weak partner. For example, if a weak debater improve 10% by having a strong partner, the strong who have to carry the weak improve 200%. This is a principal of God. When you help others; you become stronger. The stronger debater will do two peoples’ work, and as a result, will transform as a super debater. Think about it: mothers and fathers became strong after having a child who was totally dependent on them. Before we were married, before we had kids, we weren’t as strong as we are now. Same principle applies in debate partners.

3. Most dangerously, there is a long-term harm to having a strong partner for a long time; you become lazy, dependent, and thus don’t improve. For example, on of my students did the very first tournament alone because his partner couldn’t show up. He was under pressure, so even though he was sick with fever, he performed better. But on his second tournament, when he did it with a stronger partner, he relied on his partner mostly, and as a result, he performed worse than the first tournament, and he didn’t improve at all, and even lost confidence in himself.


This is true because the second speaker does the rebuttal in debate. Thus, the responsibility of the second speaker is greater. So, if you don’t want this kind of pressure, then you can choose to be the first speaker.

This also means, if you are the second speaker, and if you feel you are a strong debater, then you should be able to win a debate no matter who your partner is, so you don’t have to worry too much about a partner.

I hope the above information helps eliminate concerns about partnership, and enhance debate planning and practice for our next semester.


In the U.S., it is customary to split the speaker positions into half/half, as that is considered fair and ethical. For example, John can agree to speak second for Pro case, and Mary can agree to speak second for Con case. In fact, most if not all coaches will demand that students share their speaker positions evenly to provide equal opportunities and challenges to both debaters to enhance their future growth, as second speakers usually improve more due to more opportunity given to rebut arguments. 


13. What is the difference between Public Forum versus Policy?

I know many parents don’ts understand the difference between PF and Policy, so let me try to explain in a nutshell.

PF includes 1) current news, 2) historical background, 3) politics, 4) argumentation with logic and verbal skills.

Compare this with Policy debate that includes, everything PF does 1,2,3,4 and

5) law making process in Congress, Senate, executive branch,

6) budget and funding policies and execution for federal and state governments,

7) theory arguments about all aspects of policy debate such as counterplans,

8) psychology + philosophy from Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Derrida, Virillo, Wilderson, Neoliberalism, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Schmitt, Lacan, Foucault, Baudrillard, and every ancient and contemporary philosopher you have ever heard will be taught.

So to simply put, there is no “ism” in PF, as everything is simple and it is about what is happening TODAY, but in policy debate, there is a lot ot P.h.D. level “isms” for example;

Ableism, Anthropocentrism, Biopolitics, Capitalism, Colonialism, Eurocentrism, Exceptionalism, False heroism, Feminism, Imperialism, Objectivism, Orientalism, Monologism, Racism, Terrorism, Territorialism, Transhumanism, lately Model Minority (about Asians in the U.S.).

14. Is it more difficult to win in the U.S. with policy debate?  No, opposite is true. 

First, policy debate is a smart choice because the chance of winning with policy is higher as too many kids are now doing PF in the U.S. bc PF is much easier.

Second, for PF, speaking ability is more emphasized and in policy intelligence is more emphasized. So in a nutshell, PF is more for native kids who can speak fluently and policy is more suitable for Asians who may not speak beautifully, but more strategic.

Third, judges for PF is the worst – grandmas, bus drivers, parents, anyone without any debate experience. But for policy, they cannot do that, so they hire the best judges who understand policy, so the judging is not so much based on LUCK, but your MERIT.

In sum, there is maybe only a 1% chance your kids can win with PF in the US, while there is maybe 50% chance your kids can win with Policy in the US. There are just way too many PF kids in the US – too competitive. However, there are 90% chance our kids can win doing PF in China, Korea, and Japan since English level is all about the same.

Proof: Look at this! 16 PF kids ALL LOST and 6 policy kids ALL WON in 2014.

15. If one chooses to do policy, does that mean one must quit Public Forum debate?  

Policy kids don’t quit PF, but they do both, just like Eric, Benson, Kelly, Brandon, and the two Kevins. For policy kids PF is a piece of cake, so they can switch to PF anytime for NSDA China tournaments, but PF kids can NEVER suddenly change to policy.

Same thing with debate coaches: Policy coach can teach any form of debate because policy encompasses all other forms of debate, but PF coach cannot coach policy. This is why, once you have done policy, coaching MUN, World Scholar, Parliamentary, or any other format is comes easy for a policy coach, as they are already at the top of debate expertise.











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