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The Tenth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students Finals Day

On February 28th 2015, the Finals Day of the Tenth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students was held at Regent’s University London, showcasing six individual speeches, five individual presentations and four group presentations by UK university students.

The day began with the Individual Presentation category finalists, all of whom are studying Japanese at post-beginner level. The presentations were all of a very high standard and it was very difficult for the judges to decide the winner. However, the first prize eventually went to Ying Liu, a 2nd year student from the University of Nottingham, for her powerful and moving presentation on “Homeless dogs in China.” In second place was Daren Sin, a 2nd year student at Imperial College London, for his fascinating speech entitled “Singlish: A language of Singapore.” Commenting on the reasons for choosing this subject, Daren said, “I ultimately chose to discuss about Singlish, because I thought it makes us unique from other cultures, like how I can easily identify Singaporeans in the UK from the way they speak!”

The Individual Presentation Category was followed by the Speech Category. All six finalists demonstrated not only exceptional Japanese ability, but also a great degree of insight and knowledge of their chosen subjects. After much deliberation, first prize was awarded to Ash Leigh Spreadbury, a 4th year student at the University of Sheffield, for his thought-provoking speech on “Globalisation and English Curriculum in Japan.” The second prize was awarded to Sakari Mesimäki, a 4th year student at the University of Cambridge, for his passionate speech on the theme of “Burikko vs. ’Career woman’ - How Japan’s culture of cute is getting in the way.” The third prize was awarded to Jason Peter Fernandes, who was also a finalist last year; this time, he spoke on the topic of “The portrayal of women in the Japanese media.”

On explaining why he decided to enter the contest, Sakari Mesimäki commented, “I enjoy all sorts of performing and have had some success with giving speeches before, so I thought I would give it a go. It's a good opportunity to practice Japanese too of course. And the prizes are amazing - that definitely motivated me to enter!”

This year’s Group Presentation Category gave beginner-level students the chance to give presentations on a topic of their choice. The four outstanding groups that made it through to Saturday’s finals were chosen from an initial 25 applications, and represented Imperial College London, SOAS University of London, the University of Nottingham and the University of Birmingham. They gave talks on “An Introduction to Malaysian Culture and Traditions,” “Tourism in different countries,” “Funeral customs – differences between the north and south of China,” and “The Cadbury family's Chocolate village.” These groups were not placed individually, but instead received special prizes based on their chosen topics.

Nikita Kamraj, who was part of one of the Group Presentation Category teams, said, “I found the whole experience incredibly enjoyable - from the initial preparation right up until the end of Finals Day. I had formed strong friendships with the all the members in my group, and whilst preparing for the contest was tiring at times, working together made it an overall fun (and less daunting!) experience. Finals day itself was an exhilarating experience, and it was great to see the support from both my past and present Japanese teachers.”

The full results of the contest can be downloaded below.

As a special treat to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Speech Contest, the audience were entertained by the traditional Japanese music and dancing of London Okinawa Sanshinkai – and some members of the audience even got up on stage to dance!

We would like to thank all participants, their teachers and supporters, the judges, audience members and BATJ for making the contest such a success. In addition, special thanks must go to the generous sponsors: Baker & McKenzie LLP, Bloomberg LP, Central Japan Railway Company, Gendai Travel Limited, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Japan Airlines, Japan Centre, JP Books, Oxford Brooks University, Regent’s University London, Ricoh UK Ltd and Toshiba of Europe Ltd.

We would like to encourage as many undergraduate students of Japanese language as possible to apply for next year’s contest! Finally, you may be interested in attending the Japan Webpage Contest for Schools 2014-15  Award Ceremony and Presentation Evening on March 28th

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