Thursday, October 30, 2008

Speech Contest

Tuesday was the Tahara Junior High School Speech Contest. And I was very excited. Not because the idea of speeches about table tennis given in badly pronounced English sounded like a good time but because I have been coaching the students at Tahara and Tobu JHS for the last month and the end was finally near. Also, I was a judge and that part sounded cool.

There were two parts. The first was a recitation of A Mother's Lullaby - a very sad story about the bombing of Hiroshima. It's moving the first fifty or so times you hear it. The next two hundred or so and you just want to hit something, maybe another American for bombing Hiroshima in the first place. I could probably recite it myself by now. "A big old tree stands by a road near the city of Hiroshima. Through the years it has seen many things. One summer night the tree heard a noise."

The student I helped coach from Tahara came in first place and my other girl did pretty well too, although she didn't place. Although to be honest I was really worried for the winner, Reina. She was having trouble just getting through it with the book in front of her two weeks ago when I was at Tahara so when we showed up on Tuesday, I was blown away by the progress she had made on her own. She won on her own, not because of anything I did.

In the second part the students had to write their own speeches, which made for a nice change. But I still had the two students from my schools speeches memorized before the contest. Their speeches were the best. I'm not saying that out of pride but because they had Nathan - who has an English degree and is a proud winner of the G-town English Award - to help them polish their speeches. And it helped because one of our students came in first and the other in third, although it was a very close contest. The top four were all separated by only one to four points.

As judges we had to pick four as winners. The students aren't told what place they come in, just that they've won. We chose one recititation and three speeches while eating cakes and drinking tea - just one of the perks of being a judge. Actually it was the only perk. The contest ended with the president of the Committee for English Research (don't ask, I don't know what they do other than sponsor speech contests) handing out the certificates to our four winners.

Now the students will go to Toyohashi for the next level of competition. Students from all over East Mikawa will be there. I'm excited for them but dismayed to find out I have to continue helping out, which means more A Mother's Lullaby just when I thought I was going to get a reprieve. "One day a Big Bomb fell on the city of Hiroshima..."

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