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Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary School Students 2019 - Finals Day

On a sunny Saturday on 22nd June, the Finals Day of the Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary School Students 2019 was held at the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, University of Oxford. Every year, our judges and the audience get to hear fantastic speeches from talented young Japanese-learners around the UK, and this year our finalists really surpassed themselves. Topics included (but were not limited to): ideal towns, tea ceremony, animal testing, the importance of empathy, personal growth and much, much more.

The contest started off with a whopping seventy-two individual applicants from nineteen different schools, all competing for the coveted eighteen places in the finals. The eighteen finalists (six in the Key Stage 3 category, Key Stage 4&5 Pre-GCSE category and Key Stage 4&5 Post-GCSE category respectively).

The Key Stage 3 category kicked things off, with all six finalists giving talks on “My Ideal Town”. The winner of this category was Year 8 Sharnbrook Academy pupil Scarlett Surridge, who described an idyllic rural New Zealand Town. Emily Downes (Year 9, West Coventry Academy) and Grace Mortimer (Year 7, The Harrodian) scooped second and third place respectively with their wonderful speeches.

Before the Pre-GCSE category contestants gave their speeches, we were treated to performances of traditional Japanese songs from the pupils of Holbrook Primary School. Their pronunciation of Japanese lyrics was excellent and it really goes to show that you are never too young to start earning Japanese!

Year 10 Hockerill Anglo-European College student Emma Troman took first prize in the Key Stage 4&5 Pre-GCSE category, who emphasised the importance of empathy. Second prize was won by Meera Balasubramaniam (Year 10, St Helen’s School) in her speech about safety in Japan. Ayo Ladenika (Year 12, Bexley Grammar School) scooped third prize with her discussion on animal testing in medical research.

The last six speeches of the day were in the Key Stage 4&5 Post-GCSE Category. The first prize winner in this category wins a ticket to Japan and an invitation to speak at the Japanese Speech Awards. This fantastic prize was won by Theodore Nze (Year 12, Aylesbury Grammar School), who gave a fascinating speech on “What is ‘Japanese’?”, which explored national identity. Leonid Goltsblat (Year 12, MPW London) and Jeremy Roe (Year 12, Whitgift School) took second and third place. Leonid talked about the ways of thought that influenced Japanese society, and Jeremy Roe spoke about the benefits of cultural change in an era of globalisation.

As well as the winners in each category, all of the finalists in all categories gave brilliant speeches and you can read all about them in our programme, available to download below.

We would like to offer our congratulations to all of the finalists and our gratitude to everyone who helped make the day such an unforgettable experience.

This event was held in collaboration with the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, University of Oxford.

We are very grateful to CLAIR, Japan Centre, JOBA, JP Books, LinguaLift, Oxford Brookes University, Ricoh UK, SCSK Europe and Zoom Japan for donating prizes, to the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation for their generous sponsorship, and to the Embassy of Japan for their support.

The event was organised by the Japanese Language Committee of the Association for Language Learning, in association with the Japan Foundation London.