Students continue Japanese speech contest winning streak

Microphone on stand

York University students from the Japanese Studies Program in the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics (DLLL) built on recent success by winning top prizes at the 35th Canadian National Japanese Speech Contest (NJSC).

In March, four undergraduate students from the program earned top prizes at the annual Ontario Japanese Speech Contest. Among them were Hei Tung Chloe Shek, who received the grand prize, and Wonkyung Lee, who was awarded first place in the Open category.

NJSC contestants who are first-prize winners in each category of the year’s respective provincial Japanese speech contests are invited to travel across the country to compete together in a national competition.

Shek and Lee participated in this year’s contest on March 24 at the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa, where the current Japanese ambassador to Canada and a former Canadian ambassador to Japan were among the five judges of the competition.

Shek receiving the Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Award

Shek, a linguistics student, won first place in the Advanced category for her speech “Views and allies of ‘young carers,’” which described her personal experience as a young caregiver to her disabled father and emphasized the importance of positive thinking.

She also was the recipient of a brand-new prize called the Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Award, which includes a return ticket to Japan and an official invitation to visit the main branch office of the Mitsui trading company in Tokyo this summer.

Lee, a financial and business economics student, won second place in the Open category for her speech titled “Liquor or Coffee,” in which she used the metaphor of sake and coffee to view people’s lives from unique perspectives.  

DLLL associate professors Noriko Yabuki-Soh and Norio Ota coached the students leading up to the national contest. Yabuki-Soh also served on the 2024 NJSC’s organizing committee. “The level of the national Japanese speech contest is extremely high, and this year’s competition was no exception,” Yabuki-Soh said. “We are so proud of Chloe and Wonkyung.”