Friday, January 27, 2017

English Speech Competition

Every year there are numerous competitions held in English for Japanese students to showcase. their English ability. Recently I had three students take part in a speech competition. The participants in my school are part of the after school English club so they enjoy learning English and participating in competitions which use it.
This was the third speech competition I have counseled students in since arriving last August. My students have also participated in a national debate competition and a 30-minute play competition, all in English.
When students begin preparing the for speech competition they first think about an issue they are interested in talking about. Once they have that issue in mind, they should start drafting ideas in Japanese to begin adding the body to their speech. In this most recent speech competition my students came to me with ideas jotted down in Japanese. At this point is it best for them to work with their Japanese English teacher, with whom they can better communicate, to get their ideas down in English.
Ayaka choose to write about the importance of space exploration, Fuka about the use of therapy dogs in hospitals, and Megumi about women and the glass ceiling.
Next I can correct any grammar troubles they are having and help the speech to sound more natural and fluent. Once their speech is completely written and there are happy with the product they begin the process of memorizing it. Students in my school, and Japan in general, are exceptionally hardworking and studious. They read over the speech time and time again to commit it to memory.
Then they begin working with me, performing the speech out loud, so I can correct any unnatural pronunciation they have. They have a goal of making it sound as natural as possible. We also work on natural gestures, volume, speed, and inflection which gives their speech character.
On the morning of the competition we found out there were to be 16 speakers total, all in grades 10 and 11. Each speaker had between 4 and 5 1/2 minutes to speak and would be docked points for being over or under the time. The speeches must be given from memory and they aren’t allowed to look at their script while at the podium.
A few of the speakers had moments of silence as they lost their place in their memory and quietly mumbled to themselves to get back on track. Some speeches lacked some organization and as an audience member is became hard to follow the point. Others didn’t speak loudly or clearly enough.
Now you may call me bias, but my three students did spectacular! So spectacular that my girls took 1st 2nd and 3rd place out of five prizes to be won. I think everyone in attendance from our school was shocked at the wonderful result we had received. We were all so incredibly proud.