North Zone winner (Senior Category) 2019, Sangte Taku shares her experience.
Though the Japanese Language Speech Contest is something that happens in a day within a span of 4-5 hours, the amount of time you need to prepare just for that one day is very long.
My preparation started around 3 months prior to the competition. The first month was mostly about correcting the grammar, editing interesting parts in and out. I spent the second month trying to read the speech smoothly, and slowly transitioning to memorizing it. By the beginning of the third month, I started practising the speech in front of different classes, questioned by students and teachers.
Those 3 months were very fun and educational. Interacting with teachers and other students in Japanese gave me a platform to practise my spoken Japanese which is something all Japanese Language students need. We learn vocabulary, grammar, etc., in class, but that is just 3 hours. Until and unless we actually use those words and pattern in sentences, we tend to forget it.
This experience has also helped me gain confidence in speaking in front of a large audience. The first time I gave my speech in front of a class, I took my sandals off because my feet were sweaty as I was very nervous. I couldn’t meet anyone’s eyes and kept looking at the walls. However, with more practise, I was able to overcome my fear of speaking Japanese in front of a crowd.
It was not all fun and games though. There were times I had to chose my practise as priority, making me wonder if it was even worth it. I would sometimes skip my university classes, or cancel plants to meet up with friends, but, now I know that it was all worth it.
Like my Sensei said, it’s not important whether you win or lose, it is the experience, the increase in your vocabulary, the improvement in your intonation and pronunciation, all these intangible things which is the REAL prize you take back with you from this experience , and I would like to think I have done that.