April 12, 2022

Chinese Language Skills Persevere through COVID

16th Annual University of Calgary Chinese Language Skills Competition
Screenshot of competition participants on zoom

On February 10th 2022, 11 students studying Chinese at the University of Calgary, competed in this year's Chinese Language Competition. The event was wonderfully coordinated by Professor E-mei Wang; thanks to her and the support of the School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures (SLLLC), we were able to have an successful event over Zoom.

We began with an introduction of our host Alexander Tyoschin, following by a commencement speech by Dr. Mark Conliffe, the Director of the School of LLLC. Dr. Conliffe’s speech highlighted the importance of language and events such as this. Finally, before the start of the competition we introduced our wonderful judges: Wang Laoshi, Cai Laoshi, and Chung LaoShi. The judges were assigned the task to analyze each participants performance on a strict criteria, relative to each Chinese level. The criteria included fluency, flow, and most importantly the content. This year every student was given the prompt: 疫情之后你想要做什么事情?or What do you want to do after the pandemic? Every student had an interesting and creative take on the topic, all levels of Chinese students were able to successfully perform a speech (especially given that it wasn’t in their mother tongue!). In addition, our host provided an exciting Chinese riddle between each presenting group of students, which kept the excitement going throughout the night. The riddles can be found below, along with the competition results.

Competitiveness, Playfulness and Mystery!

The competition began with our beginner level 1 group from the CHIN207 class. First, Julia Licznerski surprised us with her wide range of vocabulary, and the number of other languages she can speak. Gabriel Sanchez finished our first group with a strong and heartfelt speech.

Our next group was CHIN 303, or beginner level 2, with three talented competitors. Yi Jun Guo discussed her desire to visit China, followed by Elijah Chung and Nikita, who both expressed their cultural interests in the Chinese language.

Our second last group, CHIN 333 or intermediate level, had four participants. The first, Janice Schick, delivered a very passionate speech, followed by Rebecca Poole, with her relatable speech on how the pandemic has impacted the ability to make new friends. Alexander Tyoschin's speech encouraged seeking discomfort and, finally, Vincent Millward (or 狐狸 as he prefers), demonstrated great talent and improvement in his speech.

The final group, CHIN 403 to 501 or advanced level, had two participants. Seung Yeon Lee delivered a heartfelt speech that may have brought tears to some of our audiences’ eyes. The final participant of the competition was Fabrizio Giudice, who surprised us with his vocabulary and flow.

While the judges tallied the scores, Janice and 狐狸 performed two piano compositions and nursery rhymes/Tang poetry, respectively. Both students not only impressed us with their speech, but also with their talent. Followed by the performance, our host gave the audience riddles to solve, and by the end our enthusiastic participants and audience were presenting their own mysterious riddles. A playful, creative, and mysterious evening as we waited for the results.

Following the award presentation, we all welcomed Dr. Wei Cai from the Division of Chinese Studies and Japanese Studies, to deliver a concluding speech and thank all parties involved, such as the Chinese Conversation Club, the judges, the audience and most importantly our participants.


CHIN 207 Beginner Level 1 (2min Speech)
First – Julia Licznerski
Second – Gabriel Sanchez

CHIN 303 Beginner Level 2 (2.5min Speech)
First - Nikita
Second – Yi Jun Guo
Third – Elijah Chung

CHIN 333 Intermediate Level (3min Speech)
First – Alexander Tyoschin
Second – Rebecca Poole
Third – Janice Schick & 狐狸

CHIN 403-501 Advanced Level (4min Speech)
First – Fabrizio Giudice
Second – Seung Yeon Lee


1. What building has the most stories?
Nǎge jiànzhú lǐ de gùshì zuìduō?
library t́u shū guǎn 图书馆

2. Character Version
A: 谁比较高?A还是C
B: C, 因为,AC低。

Pinyin Version
A: shéi bǐjiào gāo? A háishi C?
B: C, yīnwèi A bǐ C dī
A: Who is taller? A or C?
B: C because, A is lower than C.
This is funny because the pinyin for A is lower than C sounds like ABCD (A bǐ C di)

3. 问:谁最知道猪?

(Wèn: shéi zuì zhī dào zhū?)
Question: Who knows pigs very well?
(dá: zhī zhū rén!)
Answer: Spider-Man!
(Dá: zhī zhū rén!)
Answer: Spider-Man!