Friday, July 21, 2017

Giving Speeches

Through out my time in Japan, I've coached numerous students in giving speeches in English. As my time in Japan came to a close, I knew I would have to give a speech, in Japanese, to the entire student body in the pre-summer vacation closing ceremony. At first the thought of this terrified me, but as I had tons of time to prepare, I took it as one of the last challenges for me in Japan.

During my time in Japan, I haven't learned much Japanese. So this experience of giving a speech would be my opportunity to try and learn a bit, use it, and assimilate with my students.

Back in May, my friend Megumi helped me write my speech from notes I wrote her in English. I can't take any credit for writing it in Japanese, but she was able to translate the points I wanted to make. I had her make a voice recording of my speech, exactly the same as what my students ask me to do. This way I could hear the proper pronunciation of the words, the speed, and tone.

I wasn't out to memorize my speech, as my students do, but I wanted to know it well enough as to not have my eyes glued to my notes while giving it. After reading it aloud at least 50 times, I was feeling quite comfortable with it.

My last step was to practice for an audience. I thought of no one better than Maiki, the student who I had coached in speech to a 3rd place victory at a national speech competition. I spent a great amount of time listening to Maiki's speech and giving her pointers. The time was now for the tables to be turned. Though we only spent a few minutes together, my time practicing with Maiki helped me feel excited and confident. She felt honored that I had asked for her help.

Though this comes at the end of my time here, it was really useful being put in my students' shoes. Before, I thought giving a speech was not the most constructive way to learn a language. But, I have greatly changed my mind. In the short two minute long speech I learned good pronunciation, accent, and vocabulary.

You can watch my speech here.  Be sure to click the CC button, to turn on the subtitles that I added. Of course, I could have done better, but I was happy with the way I could easily and comfortably get through it. I felt pretty relaxed, despite the challenge at hand. I just wanted to appear happy and excited. I think I succeeded!