Elli Li, an Accounting and Finanical Management student who is also studying the Japanese language at Renison, has won first place in the Intermediate Category at the 29th Canada National Japanese Speech Contest.
The Intermediate Category is for those speakers for whom neither parent is a native speaker of Japanese and who has studied Japanese for up to 260 hours without staying in Japan for more than six months in total since the age of six.
Li continues Renison’s long run of success in Japanese language speech contests. However, what was on the mind of Li while she was in the midst of the contest was engaging with the other contestants. “Among all the events that happened, the most memorable one was my encounter with the other contestants,” said Li. “Upon landing, I got on a bus to get to the hotel as instructed and saw six other students who gave out the same “vibe”. The moment we made eye contact, we knew that we were all here for the same reason, and everyone just began chatting. We were so excited to get to know each other and relate. That wonderful feeling of being connected by a common passion is something I would never forget.”
The speech contest is not just an opportunity for contestants to show off their skills, but also a chance for them to continue their learning and growth. Li explained that she was able to develop and expanded Japanese vocabulary and techniques from the other contestants. More so, “we learned about each other’s motivations for studying Japanese and the things we did to improve. For example, one of the contestants is currently running a Japanese radio channel, and another one is part of a Japanese drama society. Hearing about their experiences reminded me that there is still a lot more to explore in this field, and many opportunities to do so.”
Li realized that there is much to learn about the language but that the Japanese culture and history informs the language to a great extent. Her next step is to study these aspects in greater depth in order to learn how sayings and expressions came to be, as well as how different situations require different manners of speech.