Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Speech Contest First Prize

Turns out that over summer break, while I was down in Oita prefecture, one of my students up here in Gifu took first prize in the prefectural English speech tournament.

I’m not sure how much I deserve to take credit for this. I guess teachers are always trying to claim credit for their students’ successes.

The speech class is pretty small; only 3 students. So the speech teacher and I get to do a lot of one on one work with them. I ended up more or less doing most of the writing for each student’s speech.

The students all originally wrote their speeches in Japanese, then translated it into awkward, ungrammatical, and essentially unintelligible English. Then, working with the speech teacher and me, re-wrote it into proper English. So most of the words and phrasing in their speeches are actually mine. In a way I feel like it’s my first prize.

In addition, with this particular student, her speech was originally too short, so the speech teacher asked me to write some filler to lengthen it. Then the speech became too long, but the speech teacher opted to cut out parts the student had written, rather than my additions. I argued against this, as I imagine all of you would as well. I said it wasn’t my speech but the student’s speech, but the speech teacher thought the student had a better chance of winning with my additions.

So, if I were to take credit for this first prize, those would be the arguments I would use.

Of course that being said, to the extent that a speech contest is just as much about delivery as it is about content, I can’t take credit because I did very little speech coaching. Most of the speech coaching occurred during summer with the regular speech teacher, while I was gone on vacation. Before I left for Oita I did a couple model readings, and recorded an audiotape of myself modeling pronunciation for the student to practice with, and that’s pretty much it.

And because I didn’t actually witness the speech tournament, I have no idea how big it was, or what the competition was like. And so I don’t know how much to be impressed by the fact that my student won.

I remember my own days as a member of the Forensics team in High School. The top two members from each event were chosen to represent the school at the district competition. The top two people from the district went on to the regionals.

At the time I was in “Informative Speaking”, doing a speech about the Etruscan War. Not only was I the only person in my school doing “Informative Speaking”, it turned out I was the only person in the whole district. So, I got first place in the district for “Informative Speaking,” which is pretty meaningless when you consider the circumstances.

Still, I got a nice award, and a round of applause from everyone at the award ceremony, and my name was listed in the school announcements along with other people who took first place in their event.

And I was able to list that award on resumes and college applications.

Link of the Day
A while ago I mentioned I enjoyed listing to NPR while in internet Cafes. I've been making the same pitch over here in Japan, but a number of people, mainly British JETs, have been telling me to switch over to the BBC instead.

The BBC site is quite impressive. There's a lot of stuff on their to listen to, particularly if you search their archives, it's almost overwhelming.

You can go through 50 years of archived BBC stories on this site. Time prepare to be wasted.

No comments: