First year student of Japanese Roman Palvanov
A casual onlooker might have been surprised at the scene in the Red Gym on a recent Friday evening: a crowded auditorium with individuals bowing in greeting to one another and well-dressed young people at a podium speaking confidently in Japanese.
This was the 14th annual UW-Madison Japanese Speech Contest. 1st-4th year UW-Madison students of Japanese competed by reciting a speech that they composed, perfected with the help of their instructors, memorized, and rehearsed multiple times in advance of the competition. Speech topics included “the importance of role models,” “who am I?” “when you love your true self,” and more.
The competitors were remarkably poised in their delivery.
“It was intimidating to give a speech to a room full of people who were more familiar with the language than I was, but I was so focused on speaking accurately that I couldn't really pay attention to how nervous I was,” stated Sophia Silva, winner in the 1st year category. “In that way, it was easier giving the speech in Japanese than it may have been had I given it in English! I was glad to have the opportunity to show what I've learned this year and articulate my ideas to people in another language.”
Speeches were judged based on content (organization), language (accuracy), and delivery (memorization/fluency).
The student contestants gained valuable experience in writing and perfecting a speech that would appeal both to the judges and audience.
“In creating these speeches, one has to narrate a life event in an effective manner and think critically about that life event,” said Naomi Geyer, associate professor in the Department of East Asian Languages & Literature. “The speech contest also provide our students at all levels an opportunity to do something together, enhancing the sense of community in our program.”
The Speech Contest was truly a community event, involving faculty, teaching assistants, and students of the Department of East Asian Languages & Literature; judges from Madison and Milwaukee; student organizations, including the Japanese Student Association; and residents of Nihongo Hausu, the Japanese language floor in the International Learning Community.
For main organizer Risa Wada, graduate student in Japanese linguistics in the Department of East Asian Languages & Literature, the experience of coordinating the event was helpful to her as a teacher of Japanese. “All the experiences, such as scheduling and communicating with all involved, helped me be a person more qualified to contribute to the Japanese program where I will work in the future,” she said.
In addition to the speeches, the program included entertaining performances of song and dance by students of all levels of Japanese and a rousing drumming display by the UW-Madison Japanese Taiko Club.
Japanese Speech Contest results:
1) Sophia Silva
2) Ruichen Xiong
1) Ysabella Bhagroo
2) Anna Baker
1) Kanna Izushi-Ciolkosz
2) Jiexin Lin
Story by Wendy Johnson, Language Institute
Photos courtesy of Shihao Zhang