International Juniors Excel at Mandarin Speech Contest
The 41st Annual Mandarin Speech Contest took place on Saturday, April 23, at Lowell High School in San Francisco. Two International juniors, Faith Chen and Wesley Tam, both of whom were in Sharo Chen’s Mandarin language class last year, took second
and fourth place in the speech contest—the largest of its
kind in the U.S. Not only did they compete at the highest possible level, but Faith and Wesley (who were born
in the States and speak English at home) competed with
students from China and native Chinese speakers.
ON THE DAY OF THE CONTES T: I had participated in this competition the year before, so I was familiar with the style
and format. At the beginning of the contest, all participants disperse to their respective classrooms to begin the
competition. I performed my speech about my interest
in theatre and discussed the merits of characterization to
learn more about one’s personality. Though I did not feel
prepared to a degree that I felt comfortable with, I was
able to improvise some sections of the speech, which I
felt gave it a more realistic tone. I noticed that many of
the candidates memorized their speeches verbatim, and
they would try to reorient themselves if they stuttered or
forgot where they were in their speeches.
ON PREPARATION: Because the speech competition was an
extracurricular activity that I chose to do in my free time,
most of the preparation time was done outside of class.
Having experience with performing theatre definitely
helped my preparation for it as well.
ON THE EXPERIENCE: I found this experience very enjoyable, and was surprised because I did not initially think
that I would win an award. Through this speech, I was
able to cultivate my vocabulary and public speaking
skills in Mandarin, which I am very passionate about. I
hope to continue Mandarin studies in the future.
ON THE DAY OF THE CONTES T: This contest is one of the
largest of its kind in the United States and many students
from various schools in Northern California compete.
By participating in the contest, students are given the
opportunity to write and recite a speech about a topic of
interest to them. My speech focused on the differences
between the Chinese and American education system,
which I was inspired to write about after visiting China a
few years ago. I participated in the competition freshman
and sophomore year, so I felt very familiar with the environment. I had to recite my speech in front of an audience and a panel of judges, and once the contest ended
I waited for the results.
ON PREPARATION: All of the preparation for the contest
was done outside of school as it was considered an
extracurricular activity. I would try to find every minute
to practice, memorizing my speech in the car or during breaks between classes. I was given two weeks to
prepare for the speech contest, and coordinating time
outside of all my school work and community service
was challenging but a great learning experience.
ON THE EXPERIENCE: Participating in the speech contest
this year was very different from previous years due to
my maturity and realization that winning was not my
only objective. Winning a trophy was an important goal
of mine, but actually enjoying the whole experience
and learning how to cope with time management and
pressure was even more valuable. From this wonderful
experience I hope to apply what I learned to different
situations and circumstances in the future.
Wesley Tam and Faith Chen, Class of 2017