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Japanese language students take national stage


By Andrew Young

Two U of C students have won top prizes
at the 20th Alberta District Japanese Language Speech Contest and will
go on to compete in the 22nd National Japanese Speech Contest (NJSC)
taking place on the University of Calgary campus March 26, 2011.

this month, 28 contestants from five universities across Alberta and
Saskatchewan came to the U of C to participate in the 20th Alberta
District Japanese Language Speech Contest. Each contestant presented a
three to five minute speech in one of four categories: beginner,
intermediate, advanced and open.

U of C students won seven of the
11 prizes, with Cherri Zhang and Alex Henderson, both undergraduate
students in the Germanic, Slavic and East Asian Studies department,
winning the top prizes in their respective categories. Zhang garnered
first prize in the beginner category for her speech, “A Nurse’s Job”,
and Henderson won first prize in the open category for “Calgary’s

“I became nervous because all the fellow contestants
were amazing,” says Zhang, a first-time contestant. “Everyone was really
good in their unique way.”

Both Zhang and Henderson will compete with the winners of regional Japanese speech contests from across Canada.

wonderful to see our students do so well at these competitions and it
will be exciting to see them present their speeches along with the best
in the country,” says Dr. X. Jie Yang, department head. “The regional
and national Japanese speech contests are signature events for our
department and for the Japanese community in Calgary and this year we
have the great opportunity to host both events. Our students not only
participate in the speech component of the contests, but also
participate behind the scenes helping the contest to run smoothly.”

to non-native speakers of Japanese, the regional and provincial
Japanese speech contests help develop interest in learning the Japanese
language and about Japan’s culture.

“I’m really excited for the
national speech contest,” says Henderson. “I was also a little nervous
because I knew that I would have to go to nationals, which would be a
lot more difficult.”

This year’s National Japanese Speech Contest
is hosted and organized by U of C and the Prince Takamado Japan Centre
for Teaching and Research in University of Alberta. The contest is
Saturday, March 26 at 2:30 p.m. in Craigie Hall C119 and will be
followed by an award ceremony and a reception. All events are free and
everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, visit