UNSW student wins trip to Japan at state Japanese speaking contest

12 Sep 2018

UNSW Business student Ming Hei Cheung chose to speak about the meaning of Danishiryoku, or maleness, to take first place in the Open Beginners Division in the state finals of the 49th Japanese Language Speech contest at UNSW last week.

Mr Cheung said he decided on the topic to clarify a new meaning of gender representation for men.

“I picked this topic because people nowadays there is an emphasis on the physical strength of men, however I consider that as a kind of gender stereotype,” Mr Cheung says.

“Why do people expect all men to be good at sports and be muscular? Why can’t men like fashion as women do? Therefore, I am trying to clarify a new definition of Danshiryoku.”

This was the first time Mr Cheung participated in a Japanese speaking contest and said it was a very helpful experience as he would like to work in Japan in the future.

“I was so nervous and didn’t expect that I would win the divison.

“I wanted to challenge myself and see how well I could speak Japanese in public under pressure.”

Mr Cheung was one of four UNSW students who gained places in different divisions of the contest, which was held at UNSW for the first time.

UNSW Student Ming Hei Chung

UNSW student Ming Hei Chung receives ticket to Japan from Mr Mark Lucas, General Manager of Japan Airlines, Australia and New Zealand.

Competitors had to prepare a speech of between three to five minutes in duration for the contest.

Japanese Professor Chihiro Thomson from the School of Humanities and Languages in UNSW Arts & Social Sciences said this year over 50 students entered the contest, participating in the Open Beginners, Open, Background Speakers’ Divisions and Highschool Divisons.

“Unlike sports, language learning doesn’t have spectators and often times their efforts are not recognised,” Professor Thomson said.

“The contest provided students a rare opportunity to shine and showcase their talent.

“It also provides motivation to the students to work hard to make their speeches perfect, they have to not only construct a logical and persuasive speech which touches the hearts of the audience members, but also deliver it without notes, and with perfect pitch and accent.

“This is a great language training.”

Yuqin (Isabella) Song placed second in the Open division, Alana Tohko Yoneda Tarrant placed second in the Background Speakers Division and Daniel Chu received a special prize for his speech in the Open Beginners Division.

Only the first-place recipients in the state finals of the High School Senior and Open Divisions will go on to compete at the National Final contest in Sydney on October 6.

As the winner of the Open Beginners Division, Mr Cheung received a round trip ticket to Japan from Japan Airlines.

Mr Cheung said he will use the ticket to travel to see his favourite Japanese rock band amazarashi in November.

“This contest is not only about the prize, but it is really a good chance for those students who want to improve their Japanese,” he said.

“You are able to get help from experienced Japanese teachers, who will adjust your pronunciation, speed and rhythm of speaking Japanese. Don’t hesitate, just go for it and give it a try.”