Exploring a new language through friends, a speech and a song

Cathy WangCathy Wang is a big fan of languages. So much so that this past June she entered Renison University College's first ever Korean Speech Contest and took home the grand prize.

The Korean Speech Contest was offered by the King Sejong Institute was open to any non-native speaker of Korean.

Cathy, a Faculty of Mathematics student, first learned Korean with her Korean high school friends who also spoke perfect Chinese. As she spent more time with her friends, she slowly began to understand the once-unfamiliar language.

The more I hung out with them, the more keen I became in understanding their dialogue without asking for a translation every minute like a fool. I started picking up Korean from slang. My friends helped me so much. After a year or so, we could gossip in Korean when we didn’t want others to understand! I felt so motivated every time my new Korean friends though I was from Korea when we chatted.

Their compliments on her Korean language skills gave her the confidence to enter the Korean Speech competition. She decided to take a chance and give her dream a shot. Instead of a formal presentation, Cathy wrote a speech that had one goal in mind: make her audience laugh.

Her winning speech, which highlighted the difference between accents, incorporated jokes about her name and even ended with a song, was born out of her dream of becoming an entertainer.

When I was little, I always dreamed about standing on a big stage, doing hilarious performances that delight my audience, and people can’t stop laughing whenever they talk about me. My mom thought being an entertainer was ridiculous, while an actuary is much more practical and sounds fancier.

Her favourite part of the speech was the component on different dialects and accents, where she imitated how her Busan friends speak Korean. She finished her performance with a song that even had one of the professors in attendance singing along.

I felt absolutely amazing! Not because of taking first place, but seeing everyone being cheered up and applauding for my funny performance.

As the grand prize winner of the speech contest, Cathy is eligible for a free trip to Korea if her speech is selected out of the top speeches submitted from across the world to the King Sejong Institute.

Her journey through learning Korean is still an ongoing process and she has no plans on stopping.

Every language has its own distinctive charm that only people who dig into it can find. Sometimes I think and talk to myself in Korean. Korean for me will not stop. It has become a habit, and I’m enjoying the learning process

Are you interested in learning a new language? Renison University College offers non-credit Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, and Korean courses. 

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