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Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer

Students compete in Chinese Speech Contest

The 13th annual Chinese speech contest will be held this week.
The 13th annual Chinese speech contest will be held this week.

This Thursday, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures will hold the 13th Annual Chinese Speech Contest.

Student contestants will present essays they have written and will be judged by Notre Dame faculty on their pronunciation, intonation, fluency, grammar, style and content.

The contest will be held in 140 DeBartolo Hall from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Chengxu Yin, teaching professor of Chinese, is the coordinator and founder of the contest. She said students significantly improve their language skills by participating in the contest. 

“It's [very] time consuming but they learn a lot through the whole process,” Yin said.

The contest is divided into three divisions: first-year Chinese students, second-year students and third-, fourth- and fifth-year students. First-year student essays are one minute long, second-years’ are two minutes and third-, fourth- and fifth-years’ are three minutes. Prizes are awarded to the winners of each division. 

Contestants from Notre Dame will be joined by contestants from Saint Mary’s College and Michiana Christian Chinese School. Seventeen students have signed up to participate this year. 

The judges this year will be English professor Nan Z. Da, finance professor Jun Yang and Hong Zhu, who serves as the University’s senior director of global education. 

Three student performances are scheduled to follow the contest, then an awards ceremony and reception. 

Senior Lily Wu plans on performing after the contest. She said she will sing “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse. 

Wu is not currently enrolled in any Chinese classes, as she completed her Chinese minor, but her old professor asked if she would like to take part in this year’s event, Wu said.

“I am looking forward to meeting new faces and seeing my professor, for sure,” said Wu. “I think it's a great event.”

Yin said each year, a student designs a T-shirt for the contest featuring the Chinese Zodiac. 

This year is the year of the tiger. The shirt was designed by sophomore Clairissa Chin. 

First-year Eamon Passey said in an email exchange that he signed up for the contest because he felt that sometimes when studying a language, it is easy to forget the meaning that languages hold and how they can be used to tell stories.  

Being able to use the Chinese language to tell my own story is liberating, so I jumped on this opportunity as soon as I had heard about it,” Passey said. 

First-year Kathryn Sherman said her speech is about gender equality and how we can combat the different standards that men and women are held to. 

Sherman began writing her speech before spring break, she said. She wrote multiple drafts with the help of her Chinese professor, then created the presentation that accompanies her speech.

“I think it’s just a good opportunity to get in some extra speaking practice,” Sherman said. “It's kind of nice to be able to practice speaking for a longer period of time and actually cover a variety of topics and sentence structures.”

First-year Macy Kerwin said in an email exchange that she sees the contest as a good way to build confidence in her conversational skills beyond the classroom. 

“Overall, it’s a great way to bond with classmates and other Chinese language learners and native speakers,” Kerwin said.

Yin said she founded the contest to build community among Chinese speakers and learners.

At the end of the contest, they all go onstage and sing a song together, which is very touching, Yin said.

“The songs [have] so well progressed beyond my expectations,” said Yin. “I think we successfully built this community.”