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Japanese speech contest returns to Cardiff

18 March 2024

A group of people standing and smiling at the camera. Some people are standing and others are kneeling.
Students and staff at the Japanese speech contest

An annual Japanese speech contest has returned to the School of Modern Languages at Cardiff University.

The contest, which was held on 29 February in the Wallace lecture theatre in Cardiff University’s Main Building, saw students deliver speeches on the Japanese language and Japanese culture and society.

The contest was open to students in first, second and final year, with there being a separate contest for each cohort. Each year group was given a different topic to discuss, and speeches had to be given within certain time limits.

First year students gave a 3-minte speech which included a self-introduction, covering why they chose to study Japanese. Second year students gave a 5-minute speech on what they would like to do during their year abroad and final year students gave a 7-minute speech on anything that was related to Japanese society and culture. Following each speech, students were asked a question by the judging panel, which consisted of Dr Mayu Negami-Handford from the School of Modern Languages and Takeyuki Watanabe from Sony UK Technology Centre.

A total of 8 students competed across the 3 year groups. 3 students competed in the year 1 category, 3 students competed in the year 2 category and 2 students competed in the final year category.

Following the speech contest, a reception was held in the university’s Main Building, where the winners of the contest were announced.

The winner of the year 1 contest was Lanta Mao, the winner in the year 2 contest was Matthew Hickman and in final year, Mia Bagdasarian came second with Nabil El Bark winning the contest.

A female student who's wearing glasses and holding a bag is smiling at the camera.
Winner of the Year 1 contest, Lanta Mao
A male who is wearing glasses and a black jacket is smiling at the camera.
Winner of the Year 2 contest, Matthew Hickman
A female who is wearing a long coat and holding a bag is smiling at the camera.
Runner up of the final year contest, Mia Bagdasarian
A man who is holding a white box is smiling at the camera.
Winner of the final year contest, Nabil El Bark

Winning students were each given a prize and the winner of the final year contest, Nabil El Bark, also secured an internship with Sony.

Dr Christopher Hood is a reader in Japanese studies at the School of Modern Languages and was one of the organisers of the speech contest. He said: “I am so proud of how all the students performed. It takes a lot to stand up in front of an audience and speak in a language which many students have only been studying for a relatively short time.

“It’s wonderful that we’re able to hold an event like this, and we are extremely grateful to Sony UK Technology Centre for their support.

“That we are able to have this speech contest really helps Cardiff to stand out as one of the leading Japanese programmes, not just in the UK, but in Europe.”

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Japanese speech contest!

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