Imperial students succeed for third year running at Japanese speech contest

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Japanese speech contest prize winners

Dr Yuki Tokumaru and the prize-winning Imperial team

Students following Japanese modules on the Imperial Horizons programme have again triumphed at the annual Japanese Speech Contest.

Run by BATJ and the Japan Foundation, the Finals of the 14th Annual Japanese Speech Contest took place at Kings College London on 2 March 2019. The event aims to improve the speaking and presentation skills of undergraduate students studying Japanese as a foreign language, whilst giving them the chance to make their voices heard in Japanese.

Imperial students saw off stiff competition from students studying Japanese as their main degree subject, remarkably taking both the top two prizes in the Individual Presentation Category.

“Jin Hui, Karolina, Jiaying & Karen worked very hard and the final standard and quality of the speeches Karolina and Jin Hui delivered were very high. We were so proud of their presentations on the Finals Day." Dr Yuki Tokumaru

Karolina Jankiewicz (4th Year Design Engineering), won first prize with her speech '30 years of change: Poland after 1989', while Jin Hui (4th Year Chemistry) took second place, with his presentation 'Malaysia: Racial Diversity and Harmony'.

Both Karolina and Jin Hui are currently studying Horizons Japanese Level 4 and were tutored by Dr Yuki Tokumaru and Ms Ikuko Saito of the Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication.

Furthermore, two Imperial first year students, Jiaying Zhuang (Chemistry), and Kailun Peng (Mathematics with Statistics), were among six groups awarded in the Finals of the Group Presentation Category. The duo gave a speech entitled 'Double Eleven in China' about the biggest online shopping event in China.

Dr Yuki Tokumaru said: “Jin Hui, Karolina, Jiaying & Karen worked very hard and the final standard and quality of the speeches Karolina and Jin Hui delivered were very high. We were so proud of their presentations on the Finals Day. Jiaying & Karen’s presentation was also very entertaining and of high standard, and the audience loved it, too.

“I would have been as proud even if our students did not win the top two prizes, because their extraordinary efforts and determination to achieve their goals were inspirational and it was a great pleasure for me to see them improve their Japanese in each coaching session bit by bit over the months. However, I am over the moon that they achieved the results they totally deserve. I would also like to thank Ms Ikuko Saito who helped coaching Karolina and Jin hui and the rest of the Japanese team who came to see our Finalists to do their final rehearsal a few days before the Finals Day.”

Striving for success

Karolina said: “Entering the speech contest was fun because I got to talk about something I find interesting and improve my language skills. I first became interested in Japanese through anime. Because I liked learning languages and wanted to try better understanding the shows, I started learning katakana and hiragana from books. As someone who had to focus on learning English to study abroad I appreciate how useful language skills are for a career.

“In the competition I found it was most difficult to control my nerves speaking in front of a large group of people but practising beforehand helped me feel more at ease.

“In the future I would like to practice kanji and Japanese conversation more. I would like to visit Japan for some time to have an opportunity to keep using the language."

Long term goals

Jin Hui said: “I have wanted to join the contest since I heard about it in my first year here at Imperial, but at that time I knew that I'd have to wait until I am able to express myself better in Japanese. As a final year student, I finally took that leap of faith.

“By far the most rewarding part of joining this contest was chance to practice and interact with the teachers in Japanese, and having my pronunciations corrected week by week, bit by bit, so that I would sound more like a native Japanese speaker. For this, I can't thank my teachers enough for their help and support.

“There is now an increase in collaboration between my home country and Japan's economy. Additionally, I aim to work in Japan at some point of my career, so it'd be definitely useful for me to know this language.

“I plan to study further and take the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test to have a formal measure of my Japanese ability. This would also enable me to work towards having a job in Japan."

Find out more

Japanese is one of the foreign languages offered to Imperial undergraduates via the Imperial Horizons programme. It is available for complete beginners (Level 1) through to Level 5.

Horizons helps students to develop transferable skills such as communication, team-working, problem-solving, business and organisational awareness. It offers a wide range of course options to stimulate students' personal, professional and intellectual growth.


Ms Cleo Bowen

Ms Cleo Bowen
Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication

Murray MacKay

Murray MacKay
Communications Division


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