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SOAS students win top prizes at Japanese Speech Contest

13 March 2014

SOAS students performed superbly at The 9th Japanese Speech Contest for University Students, securing first and third prize in the Speech Category, earlier this month.

This annual contest aims to improve the speaking and presentation skills of students studying Japanese as a foreign language at universities in the UK and Ireland. It is staged by the British Association for Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language (BATJ) and The Japan Foundation London.

In addition, two of the four participating SOAS students were finalists in the Group Presentation Category, aimed at beginner-level students.

First prize winner, Giulia Surace, fourth year BA Japanese and Politics, spoke on 'Political Indifference in Japanese Youth' and third prize winner Ellen Mitchell, fourth year BA Japanese, gave a speech on ‘A welcoming, meritocratic society - the arcades of Japan’.

Giulia said: "Being able to take part in such a challenging competition was the greatest reward after studying Japanese for four years - and an excellent opportunity to put my Japanese skills to the test.

“It was also a great chance to meet other students who are as enthusiastic about issues in contemporary Japan as I am. Winning the first prize was an immensely gratifying experience and I am extremely grateful to my Japanese language teachers for supporting me throughout the whole process."

Giulia Surace

First prize winner Giulia Surace, fourth year BA Japanese and Politics, spoke on 'Political Indifference in Japanese Youth'

Finalists Ga-Yen Dang and Pippa Marshall, both first year students, were selected from a large number of applicants, based on their video performance. They gave a presentation on Christmas in London and their award was named ‘Uncovering Winter London Prize.’

SOAS Head of the Department of Japan and Korea Professor Andrew Gerstle said: “The fantastic success of two SOAS students being awarded first and third places in the top category again this year is unprecedented and attests to the high quality of the SOAS Japanese programme both in language and intellectual skills. Winning top prize two years in a row and the continuing success of the first-year group reflects a strategy of intensive teaching and offering students extra time in 'language clinics' to work together in language study and to learn from each other.”

Japanese Speech Contest

The 9th Japanese Speech Contest at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS

In a letter to Professor Paul Webley, Director of SOAS, Kenichi Yanagisawa, Director General of the Japan Foundation London and Yoko Matsumoto-Sturt, Chair of BATJ, offered their warmest congratulations. They said: “We were extremely impressed at the high level of Japanese amongst all applicants” and that the judges had a very difficult decision in the speech category. Both organisations took this opportunity to thank SOAS for its continued support towards Japanese language education.

This year’s success follows on from similar success last year when SOAS students took both first and second prizes as well as the Lifestyle and Culture Research prize.

Learn more about studying Japanese at SOAS.