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Meet the University Speech Contest Winners - Ash Leigh Spreadbury

In this series of mini interviews, we’d like to introduce previous winners of the Japanese Speech Contest for University Students, and catch up on how things have been going with them since winning the contest...

Ash Leigh Spreadbury
Speech Category First Prize Winner, 10th Speech Contest (2015)
University: University of Sheffield
Speech Title: “Globalisation and English Curriculum in Japan”

You got First Prize in the contest, which means you won a free return plane ticket to Japan from JAL! What did you do in Japan?

“I made good use of another prize, the Japan Rail Pass from the Japan Centre, and spent most of my time travelling around the country visiting friends. Perhaps most interesting was going to Akita prefecture where I got to go inside one of the old samurai residences (武家屋敷, bukeyashiki) in Kakunodate and visited Lake Tazawa (one of the filming locations for IRIS if you're a K-drama fan!) which was beautiful in autumn.”


Photos by taken by Ash Leigh during his trip

What are you doing now with your Japanese?

“I am currently enrolled on a Master's program at Keio University studying linguistics with a MEXT scholarship.

It was through studying the Japanese language (because it is so different to English) that I became interested in linguistics in general and chose to pursue it for my Master's. Furthermore, were it not for having studied Japanese, I would not have been able to enrol on this course as all of the classes and communication with professors is conducted in Japanese.”

How has taking part in (and winning!) the Speech Contest helped you in this path?

“Winning the Speech Contest is something which I made sure to mention in both my MEXT scholarship and Keio entrance applications. I like to think that the Speech Contest provided more practical evidence of my ability to live and study in Japan (in Japanese).”

We’d like to thank Ash Leigh for taking the time to catch up with us, and we wish him the best of luck with his Master’s program. 頑張ってください!

You can read a full report from the 10th University Speech Contest here.

Why not try yourself?! Applications for the Twelfth Speech Contest are now open – find out more and apply here.

The return flight to Japan was generously provided by Japan Airlines and the JR Rail Pass by the Japan Centre.