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50th Japanese Language Speech Contest Finals

The 50th Anniversary Australian Japanese Language Speech Contest Finals was held at The Japan Foundation, Sydney on October 12, 2019 (Saturday), to showcase a wide range of brilliant speeches from two divisions:

  • High School Senior Division
  • Open Division

The winners from state and territory level contests in these two divisions and a high school senior division winner from New Zealand were invited to participate. To reach the Australian Finals, participants must demonstrate excellence in both language and public speaking.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the contest!

2019 Speech Contest Programme

Media Coverage

News coverage of this contest in the media (in Japanese):

2019 High School Senior Division

Prize Name Speech Title
1st Catherine Liu
(The Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School, VIC)
Manner War
2nd Kaustav Bhowmick
(Perth Modern School, WA)
What Truly is Success?
3rd Renyun Zhang
(Norwood Morialta High School, SA)
Waste Classification

Contestants’ Comments

Participating in the 50th annual Japanese Language Speech Contest Finals was a greatly enriching experience I am wholly glad I had the opportunity to be involved in. The contest was particularly interesting due to many factors, including it providing a unique facet through which to improve Japanese language skills and meet new people sharing a common interest.

The opportunity to perform a rehearsed speech in a foreign language for fluent speakers is, in itself, exceptional. Through the many steps involved, I believe that it can certainly contribute to a refinement in Japanese writing and speaking skills. Initially, through gradually writing and editing my speech, I learnt and was reminded of many new phrases and structures useful in conversation. Moreover, the practice involved is a recipe for enhancement. Also, during the event, being able to communicate with native Japanese speakers is just another way through which to elevate Japanese speaking ability as well as confidence. During the many stages of the contest, much development can occur in Japanese and this is just one reason I urge all to participate.

Moreover, meeting peers with similar goals and interests regarding Japanese culture is definitely encouraging. Upon arriving in Sydney, I, along with many others, was quite nervous. However, when speaking with others, both past and participating contestants, I was undoubtedly uplifted by the notion that there were others of the same mindset and motivation of learning Japanese to a high degree.

It is due to these features that this was an experience I could not describe as anything but fantastic. I would like to thank all of the organisers and sponsors for creating such a memorable event, and to all I would fully recommend this. If I could offer any advice, I would say to simply enjoy the journey, as it is one that may not be forgotten.

My experience from competing within the Annual Japanese Speech contest has been amazing. I am very thankful and feel privileged to have been offered such a rare and wonderful experience.

Some advice that I would give to any future contestants would be to enjoy yourself and practice early on. This competition will rattle your nerves no matter what you do, however, the more time you dedicate to preparation, your performance will feel more natural. One of my main lacking points was my presentation. If I had prepared for my speech more I may have done better than I did.

In saying this I also want any participants to remember that this contest can be fun if you let yourself enjoy it. I had such a great time meeting the other contestants, both in the open and high school divisions. I was also able to have a wonderful holiday in Sydney and try a variety of interesting foods and activities.

Through this experience I was able to meet such wonderful people and was able to display my abilities in front of a variety of universities. If you are thinking you won’t win or that you aren’t good enough to compete then just remember that you owe it to your fellow contestants and yourself to try your hardest.

Hey, my name is Josh Campbell, and I represented New Zealand in the Senior High School Division of the 50th Japanese Language Speech Contest Finals in 2019. Being a contestant in this competition was such an incredible experience that I will never forget. In the weeks leading up to the finals, I felt really nervous. I was worried that I would get up to speak in front of the audience, and forget everything. One of the ways I prevented this from happening was making sure that I had practised my speech lots. My advice to future participants is to make sure you are really familiar with your speech and the topic that you are talking about. It makes such a difference! On the day of the contest, I was able to get up in front of the judges and audience, and deliver my speech calmly and smoothly, which was such a relief. Another important piece of advice is just to enjoy the experience! Even before I went up to do my speech, I had already met some of the other contestants, who turned out to be really amazing people. Being able to represent your state, or even your country in the finals, is an amazing memory that will stick with you for life, so you deserve to enjoy that experience as much as I did! Thank you so much to the team at the Japan Foundation for their efforts in organising the competition. I really appreciate it. みなさん、頑張りましょうよ!

Participating in the Japanese Speech Contest is a consistently rewarding and thrilling experience.

Writing a speech in a foreign language about a topic you feel passionate about allowed me to explore, not only the Japanese language, but myself as a person and helped me gain confidence in public speaking, which I did not have before. Preparing and practicing the speech enabled me to study Japanese in an intimate way that I could not have experience in normal school, textbook learning.

The competition brings together students who are passionate about learning Japanese, each with their own quirks and topics. Simply sitting there and listening to the variety of topics and perspectives that were presented by such talented and hard-working people was an honour in itself, and brought new ideas and issues that I had not thought of before. Despite being a competition, there was no animosity between the competitors, everyone eager to get to know one another and encourage each other throughout the day. To future competitors, I implore you to not only think of the end result but enjoy and have fun during the journey.

At the end of the day, for participating at all, all of us were winners. Good luck to future participants!

I feel so honoured that I had been given the marvellous opportunity to compete in the 50th Japanese Language Speech Contest. I learnt so much through participating in this contest, and met so many new people from diverse geographical backgrounds who were so strong at Japanese.

This was my first time participating in a language contest of any sorts, so I was quite puzzled at first when after the state contest, the organisers suddenly told me to go to Sydney! However, the organisers were amazingly helpful and thorough with their answers to every question I had asked.

Through my preparing for this contest, I divulged into Japanese at a deeper level, and uncovered so many new aspects of this detailed language that I would not have learnt otherwise in the classroom. Undoubtedly, apart from polishing my script with my Japanese teachers, the most imperative component for me was practice and truly understanding and conveying my opinions and thoughts. In my case, it was a kind of ‘funny episode storytelling’, but it undeniably reflects my bright personality through the speech.

Not only was the contest an eye-widening experience, however I also met a group of passionate people whose deep and meaningful speeches resonated deeply within me, and, I’m sure, all the audience as well. They had given me motivation to continue striving towards my goals of cultivating my Japanese skills further.

I would like to extend my gratitude towards all organisers, volunteers, judges and sponsors for making this contest so valuable to me. It provided me with an opportunity to not only improve my Japanese and meet friends of one mind, but also allowed me to understand Japanese culture at a broader degree. It has definitely fuelled my desires to continue my Japanese studies, even after high school. I absolutely encourage any Japanese language student to participate. Enjoy the experience, and create a lifetime memory!

It was a last minute decision to participate in my state’s speech competition, and so I was surprised to find out I would be taking part in the 50th National Speech Competition in Sydney in a couple of weeks time.

I was very nervous beforehand as I have never really presented a speech before – not even in English – and especially as I’m not the biggest fan of cameras I felt a little uneasy (everything is live streamed and there’s lots of photos). It was exciting though – it’s such an amazing opportunity! Not everyone gets the chance to compete in a competition like this, and I’m very proud of the work I put in to get there. I am also proud of the message I got to pass on as it is something I am passionate about, and I believe this competition is a fantastic platform that you can use to talk about something that you believe matters and needs to be talked about. No matter the topic, you have the opportunity to talk in front of a room of people about something you care about! And that’s the best thing about this competition, in my opinion – it provides young people learning Japanese a platform to voice their thoughts and opinions!

No matter the result, I think you can make it a very motivating experience for your Japanese learning – something to work hard for, and afterwards something to improve from.

As a Grade 11 student who would like to participate in the contest next year, I learnt a lot that might help me in future competitions of this type.  I started to consider the different aspects that judges assess when evaluating the participants’ speeches. Listening to the speeches of the other participants was so helpful.  I was able to learn so much from what the other participants chose to write about and the professional way that they delivered their speeches.

It definitely motivated me to study Japanese more. On my return home after the National competition, I wanted to come back to the contest with the perfect script and present it to all. That gave me the ultimate goal and helped to find what the success in studying Japanese.

I think it is good opportunity for young people to share their abilities with others and gain more experience in contests. That is the most efficient way to find their strengths and also their weaknesses. However, I know Year 12 gets really busy so I recommend others to participate as earlier in Grade 11 as well, even if they are hesitating because they think it would be too hard to compete against Grade 12 students in this Division.

At the regional contest, Brisbane, I wasn’t so confident with my speech. I didn’t have time to memorise it, but I was able to get the second place from that contest, which I felt good about. That was my first time to participate in a Japanese speech contest and also the first time to go up to be presented with an award on stage.

After that, I heard from my teacher that I was chosen to go to the state level competition. At that moment, I didn’t feel I wanted to go. I had a lot of school assessment to complete, and felt the pressure of the new education course in Queensland called ATAR, which is new for both teachers and students in Year 11 in Queensland.  To say the truth, I didn’t really want to go to the regional contest. However, I was pushed by my Japanese teacher to go to the state contest and in the end I could win the Grand Champion at this competition and received the invitation to the National contest.

From the national contest, I couldn’t win any prize but I felt that I had learned so many things on this journey. Before I participated in this contest, I didn’t participate in any events or contest. I didn’t do the maths competition even though I am good at it. I probably wouldn’t have participated if my teacher hadn’t believed in me and pushed me each time I was hesitant. I realised that the person who never believes in me was actually myself, not others. From these experiences, the 2019 Japanese speech gave me a strong confidence and has made me try new things rather than just think that it is not for me. I can honestly say that the experience of competing in the Japanese Speech contest has changed my future.

I was very honoured to have this precious opportunity to had participated in the 50th Japanese Language Speech Contest. Because this year is the 50th speech contest, the Japan Foundation also organized a special and excellent reception, inviting past contestants and special guests. I had a pleasant time to talk with them and make new friends with contestants from all across Australia. It felt so good to talk to all of those who share the same interest about Japan and Japanese language and the culture. The Japan Foundation is truly amazing to host such an event and I want to thank all the staff and volunteers.

To be honest, I was not nervous at all before standing at the stage because I did not expect to place as I only learned Japanese for a year and a half. However, on the reception I met a past contestant who is the winner of open-beginners division few years ago, he said to me that, ‘you should be more confident; the moment that they call your name, it begins, and that is the moment you show your confidence and let them know.’ I was really inspired by his words.

My tips to future participants would be to practice more, the more you practice, the less nervous you will be when standing at the front and giving a speech. However, I know that you might still be nervous even though you are very well-prepared because it’s stressful to speak in your second or even third language in front of native speakers; at this time, try not to speed up and pronounce key words clearly.

I would strongly recommend anyone studying Japanese participant in this contest. Believe in your potentials and just do it and you would truly learn something from this contest. It might not be the prizes, but you are able to gain experience of giving a speech, make new friends (trust me, you don’t get to meet people who are passionate about Japanese language and culture everyday; I even met a person from my hometown and a person who is able to speak 6 languages! This is so amazing! ) or even arrange a ‘trip’ to Sydney yourself. Regardless of winning or losing, you will become more skillful and better than before.

2019 Open Division

Prize Name Speech Title
1st Amrit Kumbhar
(University of South Australia, SA)
The Iroha Song and Optimistic Nihilism
2nd Xinyi Wang
(Australian National University, ACT)
Tea Culture in Japan and China
3rd Darwin Hands
(University of Tasmania, TAS)
An Untranslatable Feeling

Participating in the 50th annual Japan Foundation Speech Contest was a wonderful experience and an amazing way to wrap up my university degree.

Getting to this point took a lot of hard work and effort, but I am certainly glad I did so – being invited to Sydney for the weekend to represent Tasmania was a real privilege, and thanks to the efforts of the Japan Foundation, a highly enjoyable two days, despite the stress of delivering a speech in front of an audience! Despite the nerves, everyone who participated did an amazing job, and I am proud to be part of a cohort of such talented speakers.

Reflecting on the contest after returning home, I have come to realise how I have benefited from participating. It was a great opportunity to meet others who share my passion for Japanese, including fellow students, teachers and members of the audience. It was also a test of nerves and confidence for someone like me to whom public speaking does not come naturally, but I feel proud to have got up in front of everybody and delivered a speech that I was happy with. Lastly, the experience has also affirmed for me my personal commitment to learn Japanese – watching the other speeches and meeting the very generous panel members, sponsors, Japan Foundation members of staff and all others who helped make this event possible has inspired me to continue learning and encourage others to learn Japanese.


It was a good experience to participate the 50th Japanese speech contest. The event was well organized by the Japan foundation. On the day before the speech contest, there was a special reception which gave me more time to know people, including contestants and other guests; also, it made me know about some of the history of the speech contest. At the time when the contest is running, the atmosphere was unexpectedly not too serious but still formal, and the time was actually passed quite fast. The people who I met in the event were all very kind. The staffs on the site were helpful and organized; many of the guests who came to the reception were generally talkative. The contestants were easy to talk and to get close, and I found that we actually share similar experiences and interests. During the contest, we heartened each other and acknowledged each other’s performance. I felt that I gained more motivation in study Japanese after participated the speech contest.

I think it is good to participate the speech contest. You can meet people who are probably have the same interests as yours, and by talking to them you will know different stories in Japanese study and different goals. Those interaction can help one build up their motivation in Japanese study. You can make friends in the Japanese study journey by participating the event, and the experience can also be written into one’s resume. If you are lucky enough and get the first prize, there will be free travel to Japan which is very good.

The 50th Japanese Language Competition was a both momentous occasion and a unforgettable night. The Sydney Japan Foundation gave us a warm welcome, with the staff making sure we had smooth travel and proper accommodation, helping us with any problems and inquires we had along the way. This year being the 50th Anniversary, we were invited to attend a reception party the night prior to the competition. The reception was fantastic providing a place to meet with prior participants and sponsors to make new connections and celebrate together the progress we had made as language learners.

In terms on my advice for future participants, I stand by my previous words from last year. Don’t stress, don’t feel nervous, don’t lose focus and believe in your abilities; and yes that’s easier said than done. However, that being said, it is possible. To those who have won in their respective states and are reading this for nationals advice, you have already demonstrated your prowess and excellence in the language, focus on doing your best and having fun; in the end that’s all that we ask from you. The excitement of the comp, your individual experience, the new friends you make, these are the truly valuable prizes.

I wish you all the best.

This is going to be valuable experience for you to participate into this national contest, and firstly I would like to congratulate all of you for coming here as state winner, you were already outstanding and should be proud of yourself. I participated 4 times in the state contest and finally I got the entry to the nationals this year. This was not easy for second language learners to decide to give a speech publicly as you need to spend time practicing over and over again to make everything looks so easy. However, I still would suggest that this is a really good platform for you to share your thoughts and express your opinions. People always say that “to have a second language is to have a second soul”. Everything you did for utilizing a second or third language made you see a different “self”. Please continue the journey of learning foreign languages. It not just provides you a competitive skill, but also you will have entirely different experience in exploring a country’s culture than others who do not understand the language. Lastly, I would quote a saying from Nelson Mandela to express how I felt after learning Japanese as my third language “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

The most valuable advice I can give to future participants of the Japanese Speech Contest is to take it easy, relax, and be yourself. You probably already have a lot of pressure on you having to deliver your speech and answer questions in Japanese, but that is only one part of the day. It is beneficial to brainstorm some possible questions the judges may ask you from your speech. That way, you can prepare an answer that you can adapt to whatever question they give you. More importantly, you should engage with the other contestants and be friendly with everyone. They are just as nervous as you but at least you are all in this together. I found the other contestants were likeminded, being as passionate about Japanese as me, and they all had interesting stories to tell. You have all earned your spot in the finals, so whether you win or not, the most valuable thing of all to gain out of this are the friendships with other contestants. It is an amazing thing to realise that you have been brought together because of your love for Japanese and the effort you put into your speeches. Give it your best, and make sure you leave the contest content in the fact that you did all you could. So, enjoy every moment and have no regrets!

This is my first time to attend this kind of big contest and staffs are so nice in the Japan foundation. The instruction is really clear and straight forward and if you do not understand, there will be many staffs there to help you figure it out. The schedule of the contest was really well-formed. I have attended the reception on the evening before the contest day and it was quite interesting. You will know some of the contestants and staffs in the reception. There are also drinks and some foods provided and you can leave whenever you want.

On the next day, there was a rehearsal in the morning. Don’t worry, it only took about 30 minutes and then you can leave for lunch. I was really nervous from rehearsal on that day but I went to have lunch, I have talked to other contestants who were also nervous. We shared our experience in learning of Japanese and even practiced our speech for each other.

In the afternoon, we finally had our contest. It was official and I felt really nervous. I thought it was common for everyone to be nervous but the key to overcome it was the courage to step in front of people to do your speech. Once you have stood in front of the judges and was doing your speech, it would be totally fine. My advice is that believe in yourself and you definitely can make it.

A few months ago, I decided to enter the Queensland Japanese Speech Contest so that I would have a platform to use the Japanese skills that I had been learning over the last few years. I didn’t believe that I would place in the competition, let alone be named the Grand Champion for Queensland. In fact, I had hoped that I wouldn’t win as I was extremely nervous about having to participate in the national competition held in Sydney. Despite the fact that my speech was a minute too short and I had stumbled over a few words, it was a truly liberating feeling to have given my speech at the national final. To have delivered my message in front of not only the audience and the judges, but also the other contestants. This competition also provided me with a rare opportunity to meet an amazing group of people from all over Australia and New Zealand, who all shared a common interest in Japanese language and culture. I may not have taken home a prize, but instead I took home something far more important; confidence. This competition has sparked a confidence within my language skills that was lacking before. Listening to the other contestants’ speeches has also inspired me to work hard with my language learning, and to take pride in my skills. I am not the most fluent speaker, but I did at this competition what few ever do. I tried. Thank you so much to everyone that made it possible for me to participate!

2019 Special Prize

Adina Apartment Hotels

Name Speech Title
Ying Lou (Macquarie University, NSW)
in Open Division
I am a Lemon
Josh Campbell (Rangiora High School, NZ)
in High School Senior Division
The Differences in How Japanese and New Zealanders Think

2019 Gallery

2019 Event Details

Date Saturday | October 12, 2019
Time 1:00pm – 4:30pm
Venue The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Level 4, Central Park
28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008
12:40pm Reception Open
1:00pm Opening Ceremony
Opening Address by Mr Shutaro Omura
Embassy of Japan in Australia
1:15pm High School Senior Division
2:10pm Open Division
3:00pm Presentation by Ms Vicky Feng
(The 1st Prize winner of High School Senior Division in 2018)
3:10pm Afternoon Tea
3:50pm Award Ceremony
Followed by Closing Address by Mr Yoshihiro Wada
Director, The Japan Foundation, Sydney
4:10pm Photograph Session
4:30pm Hall closes
1st Prize

Middle and right images: © Kyoto Tourism Council

Return air ticket to Japan courtesy of Japan Airlines

Kyoto Bullet Train Open Ticket Package & Kyoto Sightseeing One-day Pass courtesy of Central Japan Railway Company

Overnight Mr Fuji & Hakone Tour courtesy of JTB Sunrise Tours

2nd Prize Duffle bag and $260 Running Shoes voucher courtesy of ASICS

$200 prepaid Gift Card courtesy of Temple University Japan Campus

$200 prepaid Gift Card courtesy of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

$100 prepaid Gift Card and university goods courtesy of Aoyama Gakuin University

3rd Prize $200 voucher courtesy of Kinokuniya Bookstore of Australia

$200 Running Shoes voucher courtesy of ASICS

Special Prize ① Overnight accommodation for two in Australia or New Zealand courtesy of Adina Apartment Hotels, valued at $500

② TFE Hotels Goodie bag courtesy of Adina Apartment Hotels, valued at $100

* Every participant will receive university goods pack courtesy of Teikyo University

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