York students win four prizes at Ontario Japanese Speech Contest

Four York students won a prize at the 31st Ontario Japanese Speech contest held March 2 at the University of Toronto, with one first-place student heading to the national competition later this month.

Thirty-nine contestants from institutions across Ontario, including Huron University College, McMaster University, YunjaeJangthe University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and the University of Western Ontario, gathered to compete at four levels: beginners (11 contestants), intermediate (13 contestants), advanced (13 contestants) and open (2 contestants).

Yunjae Jang

Included were eight York students – three in the beginners category, two in the intermediate category and three in the advanced category. All are currently enrolled in JP1000 (Elementary Modern Standard Japanese), JP 2000 (Intermediate Modern Standard Japanese) and JP3000 (Advanced Modern Standard Japanese) at York.

All three students in the advanced category and one student from the beginners category won a prize.

Yunjae Jang (JP2000), a third-year student in the BBA program at the Schulich School of Business, won first place in the advanced category – one of the most competitive. He convincingly and fluidly delivered a speech, entitled “From Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves”, making an inspiring MinminYuconnection between a business-related proverb and his personal story. As the first-place winner, Jang has been invited to compete at the 2013 National Japanese Speech Contest at the University of Manitoba on March 23.

Minmin Yu

The third-place went to Minmin Yu (JP2000), a first-year student in the BBA program at the Schulich School of Business, for her speech, “BMW& Bicycle”. She eloquently delivered her opinion about marriage in response to a fad phrase that recently emerged in social media. Yang and Yu were awarded with scholarships.

For his speech, “Single, or Multiple Identities?”, JP3000’s Yousef Mohamed, a fourth-year management student (bachelor of administrative studies) in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) was awarded a special prize.

The Special Effort Prize was awarded to JP1000’s Mary Ralladi, a first-year accounting student (bachelor of administrative studies) who competed in the beginners category, for her speech, “Always By My Side”.


Above: The 39 contestants from institutions across the province who competed in the Ontario Japanese Speech Contest in March

After the speech contest, Kumiko Inutsuka, chair of the organizing committee and York professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics, LA&PS, noted this year’s trend was the well-balanced distribution of the number of contestants for the first three levels (beginners, intermediate and advanced).

“It used to be the case that we would get more entries in the lower levels – beginners and intermediate – but this year we had a good balanced distribution across the levels. This may be a reflection of the fact that more learners are pursuing their Japanese learning to a higher level,” said Inutsuka.

The speeches were evaluated in five areas – content, organization, presentation, pronunciation and grammar – by a panel of five judges led by the chief judge Jack Howard, a librarian at the Royal Ontario Museum’s H.H. Mu Far Eastern Library.

York’s Japanese Studies Program is currently home to more than 300 students.

To view the list of award and prize winners, click here. For more information about the Japanese Studies Program @ York, click here. For more information about the contest, visit the Ontario Japanese Speech Contest website.

Submitted to YFile by Kiyoko Toratani, a professor in York’s Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics, LA&PS.