York students earn prizes at National Japanese Speech Contest

Two York University students were named second- and third-place winners in their categories after presenting their speeches at the 29th National Japanese Speech Contest, held at the University of Alberta on March 24.

Consul-General Kunihiko Tanabe, Andrew Christensen, Professor Takahiko Masuda

Left to right: Consul-General Kunihiko Tanabe, Andrew Christensen, Professor Takahiko Masuda

Consul-General Kunihiko Tanabe, Gabby Ricker, Professor Takahiko Masuda

Left to right: Consul-General Kunihiko Tanabe, Gabby Ricker, Professor Takahiko Masuda

Twenty-five contestants, all first-place winners in four categories (beginners, intermediate, advanced and open), representing seven regions – British Columbia, Alberta-Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ottawa, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic – gathered to compete at the National Japanese Speech Contest. Among the contestants were York’s Andrew Christensen, a first-year student in the East Asian Studies program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), and Gabby Ricker, a second-year history student in LA&PS, as the representatives of Ontario.

By the end of the day, a total of 12 prizes were awarded, two of which were given to York students. Christensen won second place in the beginner’s category for his speech “Jinsee ni wa choosen ga hitsuyoo da (You Need Challenges in Life).” Ricker placed third in the advanced category for her speech “Kau-beki ka, kawazaru-beki ka (To Buy or Not to Buy).”

As the highest achiever among York students who participated in the Japanese speech contest this year, Christensen was chosen as the 2018 recipient of the Peter Sato Award.

This award was established in 2007 by Peter Sato, a distinguished Japanese diplomat and former ambassador to China, to promote Japanese language education across Canada, and is awarded annually to York student who achieves the highest placement in the National Japanese Speech Contest.

“This contest not only provided an opportunity for Japanese language learners to present their much thought-out speeches in Japanese, it also provided a place to meet other like-minded students across Canada at the network reception held after the contest was over,” said Kumiko Inutsuka, a professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

“Ricker commented that she particularly enjoyed making new friends who share the same passion toward language learning, and Christensen felt that participating in the contest helped him improve his presentation skills as well as helping him to internalize his grammatical knowledge of the language.”

The contestants’ speeches were judged on originality, organization and presentation quality, including pronunciation and memorization. The judging panel consisted of five Japanese professionals: Kunihiko Tanabe, consul-general of Japan in Calgary; Takahashi Ohki, past president of the Edmonton Japanese Community Association; Yoshifumi Murakami, Japanese-language education advisor; Takahiko Masuda, associate professor at the University of Alberta; and Tamaki Ikeda, Japanese instructor, Edmonton Public School Metro Continuing Education and Japanese JET Alumni Association Northern Alberta Language Program.

The contest was live-streamed on Prince Takamado Japan Centre’s Facebook page, and the recording is now available for viewing.

Story submitted to YFile by Kumiko Inutsuka, a professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

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