Okamatsu Speech Contest 2013

SpeechContest2013-03In April this year, when I was taking class at the Toronto Japanese Language School, our teacher Sugimoto  sensei told us about the Okamatsu Japanese Speech Contest to be held in the school in May. She told us that preparing and giving a Japanese speech will greatly improve our Japanese Language skills. Because Japanese is my favorite language, I thought I should take this chance to challenge myself and therefore I decided to apply.

Composing an essay for the speech was the most difficult part because it requires creativity. I had tried out at least 4 different ideas and I found the first 3 were not very satisfactory. I searched desperately for ideas. One day while I was surfing the web, I met a new Japanese word  “hanafubuki”, which means that the  sakura petals fall like snow. This beautiful word inspired me almost simultaneously and I immediately recollected the ohanami event about a week before then. At the event, teachers and classmates sat under a sakura tree in High Park and greatly enjoyed the sakura, the food and the happy conversations. At the same time, I felt a little bit of sentimentality when I came to think about that people come and leave and one has no idea about when and where old friends will meet each other again. Tons of ideas, thoughts and emotions suddenly flooded in my mind, and after I sat still in front of my laptop, the words simply gushed out of my fingers through the keyboard. It did not take me long to finish the draft of the speech.

After the completion of the draft, there was only one week left before the contest. During this period, Sugimoto sensei had given me enormous help. First of all was the correction SpeechContest2013-01of the language.  Sensei went through the essay with me very carefully, word by word, sentence by sentence, helping me correcting the grammar, improving the flow among sentences and paragraphs, adjusting the words so that they sound more natural, just to mention a few of the improvements which had really lifted the language of my essay to a new level. Not only did Sugimoto sensei help me correct the essay, but she also devoted a great deal of energy to correct my pronunciation. From the stress of words to the intonation of the sentences, from the distinction between “T” and “D” to the management of pauses, she had helped me very carefully in virtually every detail about pronunciation. In addition to that, just one day before the contest, she also let me practice the whole speech and gave me valuable feedback over the phone. Sensei’s help is indispensable for my achievement in the contest.

On the actual day of the contest, Tomoko Sensei helped us contestants from our class by arranging a rehearsal for us. This helped us relieve our nervousness before the contest and therefore we could do our best.

By experiencing this speech contest, I learnt a lot about how to appropriately express my thoughts. This is really helpful for a person like me who wants to become a teacher. Also, having been able to express myself on the stage, I have gained confidence about my Japanese.

All contestants did their best and their speeches were truly wonderful and creative. I was just fortunate to be the winner. I hope that through the contest, all contestants were able to improve their Japanese language skills and gain precious memories while preparing the speeches with their teachers, classmates and all others involved.

I want to take this chance to thank the teachers and the students in the school and the
Judging Panel and all others involved. In particular, I want to express my deepest gratitude to Sugimoto  sensei for her thorough and dedicated guidance, help, encouragement, support and her great enthusiasm for teaching the Japanese language.

July, 2013