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The Eleventh Japanese Speech Contest for University Students Finals Day

Chinese culture and society, gender roles in Japan and the drinking culture of Britain were some of the fascinating topics explored by finalists in the Eleventh Japanese Speech Contest for University Students, which was held on February 27th 2016 at SOAS University of London.

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 Dennis Sun, a 1st year student from SOAS, for his powerful and enlightening presentation on “The Internet in China.” In second place was Danny Wray, a 2nd year student at the University of Bristol, for his highly entertaining and animated presentation entitled “Guinness: Ireland's National Drink.”

Speaking about his success, Dennis said, “I decided to enter the contest to give myself a challenge. Having been to Japan on exchange visits, I’d become more or less comfortable speaking Japanese casually among friends, so I wanted to take that a step further and practice my formal public speaking skills...On the day I was impressed not just by everyone’s level of Japanese but also by the genuinely fascinating contents of their various speeches and presentations.”

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 Laura Onciu, a 3rd  year student at Newcastle University who was a finalist in the Individual Presentation Category at the Ninth Japanese Speech Contest, for her thought-provoking speech on “"Norms" that create reverse discrimination - Adverse effects of conventional wisdom in Japan.” Laura's prizes included prize money, a Japan rail pass and a plane ticket to Japan! The second prize was awarded to Joseph McElhill, a 3rd year at the University of Leeds, for his engaging speech on the theme of “The Importance of Non-Verbal Communication when learning Languages”. The third prize was awarded to Wanming Ding, who gave a fascinating insight into “Japanese anime: the reasons for its success and problems with further development.”

On explaining why she decided to enter the contest, one of the finalists in the Speech Category, Rosanna Jackson, commented, “There aren't many opportunities to have an audience of Japanese speakers who you can directly tell how you feel about an aspect of their society or your own society. It's an opportunity to start dialogue, no matter how small and that's why I entered the contest.”

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 17 groups that applied, and represented University College London, SOAS University of London, Aston University and Imperial College London. They gave talks on “Traditional Chinese Festivals,” “Anime in our countries,” “Differences between England and China” and “South Kensington's Museum.” These groups were not placed individually, but instead received special prizes based on their chosen topics.

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 L.P., Central Japan Railway Company, Gendai Travel Limited, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Japan Airlines, Japan Centre, Job Tessio Inc., JP BOOKS, NHK World, Nikkei Europe Ltd., Oxford Brookes University, Ricoh UK Ltd, SOAS University of London, 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, students still at school may be interesting in applying for the Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary Schools, the deadline for which is March 31st 2016.

You can download the full results of the contest below.

All photos from the contest can be viewed at our Facebook page here.

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