English Speech Contest—Part II

Spoiler Alert! Please read the previous entry before you read this one!! You can easily reach the first part by clicking here.

Closing Ceremony

When all of the speeches were finished, there was a long break in which the judges deliberated. When people began to bring out the trophies and the other prizes (English dictionaries which ordinarily cost about $60), everyone began to pay attention. The judges walked in and gave their closing comments.

Ms. Reinbold kept her comments very short. She said she was very proud of all the students, and that the JTEs and ALTs had done a wonderful job coaching them. She gave the students some advice: speak from you diaphragm and speak naturally.

Mr. Wright said he was very impressed with this year’s speakers. He said that the first year students—all of them—were the best he has ever seen in all thirteen years of judging this contest. He also said that the third year speeches were the best he ever heard. So he was overall very impressed with everyone! He said that he gave everyone student either high Bs or As (like, 88 to 100 points). He said that the winner of the third year speeches was the best he had ever heard, and that this speaker would probably go on to win nationals, if they kept studying really hard.

So I was very hopeful for my students! Even if they didn’t win, they are still part of the best group Mr. Wright has ever seen.

After both of the judges were done speaking, though, my students sitting next to me were all like, “Wakaranai.” (“I don’t understand.”) Haha! The judges were speaking very fast and using big words, so I don’t know how he expected the students to understand. I would tell them later though, because what he said was very complimentary.

The judges stepped off the stage, and the moderator stepped up to announce the placements. She started with fourth place and moved up to third, and she always said the school’s name first.

I knew my first years would place, so as she went through fourth and third place without saying “Yusuke and Harukazu,” I got more and more excited for them. There was no way they wouldn’t place!

Moderator: “For second place… Tomiura Junior High School, Yusuke and Harukazu.”

I cannot adequately express my excitement in words. If I had less self-restraint (and I really don’t think I do have any), I would have jumped up and whooped. Yusuke and Harukazu looked confused for a second, and then Yusuke turned to Harukazu, and Harukazu translated for him.

Harukazu: [in Japanese] “We got second place.”

And then they both turned to me for confirmation, and I was nodding like crazy, “Yes!”

And then they got excited. Yusuke’s face lit up and it looked like he could barely sit still. Like me, he probably wanted to jump up and pump his fist in the air.

And they would have gotten first place too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids the cheater school Shirahama!

The moderator announced the first place winner—it was the girl from Shirahama. Big surprise.

After she finished announcing the placements, all of the first to fourth place winners went to the stage to collect their prizes. Yusuke and Harukazu got certificates, dictionaries, and these awesome 2nd place plaques.

While they were up there, Kamada-sensei came up to me looking very pleased. She immediately asked me why I thought they didn’t get 1st, and I told her that it was because Shirahama is a cheater school. XD She looked confused, so I told her it was a joke. She said that she thought it was because our script’s vocabulary wasn’t as advanced as the Shirahama girl’s script. I thought that was probably true—it probably came down to content, because I thought they were pretty equal on everything else.

As for the second year winners… Minami didn’t place. When they finally announced the first place winner, I turned around to Minami. She looked very disappointed—almost like she was going to cry—so I put my hand over hers and said, “You did a very good job.”

The other girls didn’t place either. I was very surprised. All of the students at the contest were amazing, so it was a tough competition, but I thought they were all pretty good. Maybe I’m biased, or I’m too close so I can’t hear their mistakes. I don’t know. I try to be objective.

After everything was over, people began to gather with their groups to take pictures. I discussed the first years a little with Kamada-sensei, but Komatsu-sensei never stopped by to discuss things. I found out later that it is probably because she got so upset last year when she lost. Oh well.

Jeff, Mike, and Victor were gathered in a corner, and I walked over to them to see what they thought about the winners—and to razz Victor for cheating my kids out of a win. They were all complaining about the judges’ decisions. They didn’t agree with many of the kids who placed—some of the kids who placed had terrible pronunciation, while others sounded great. When I went back through my program, I was surprised. A lot the kids I had made note of didn’t place, and a lot of the kids I thought were not good had!

Oh well. I think all that matters is that my students improved a lot. But then, I’m very much a self-motivated person. It’s more about if I can beat myself than if I can beat other people. For most things anyway; I get competitive sometimes, but not often.

We took some pictures and headed out.

I’m so sorry it’s blurry! My phone’s camera didn’t take a very good picture…

On the way out, my students noticed Mike’s car in the parking lot. It was parked right in the front, and it is bright orange, so it is kind of hard to miss. They all said, “Kakkoiinaa!” (“Whoa, cool!”) I laughed and told them it was Mike-sensei’s car.

Yusuke: “Noritai!” (“I want to ride!”)


We walked over to our van, but then I saw Mike getting into his car. I pointed it out to them, and Kamada-sensei said they should go over.

Yusuke: [in Japanese] [to me] “Come with me, okay?”

Haha! He just didn’t want to go talk to an English speaker by himself. Harukazu tagged along.

Me: “Hey, Mike. My students really like your car. Yusuke, jikoshoukai.” (“self-introduction”)

Yusuke: “I’m Yusuke.”

Mike: “Nice to meet you, Yusuke! I’m Mike.”

I nudged Harukazu and made him do it, too, and Mike shook his hand. It was pretty funny. They were all nervous and stuff. I think it was probably good to have them meet a male ALT—they’ve been stuck with girls for the last two years.

Yusuke was very impressed with the convertible, and he said something about wanting to see the top up. Mike said something back to him in Japanese, and Yusuke looked stunned. It was pretty hilarious. XD

We went back to the van, and Melissa and her students were nearby. One of Melissa’s students was crying, and I asked Melissa what was wrong.

Melissa: “Oh, she’s upset because she lost. But she did very well.”

I asked what story she told, so I could remember whether she was good or not, and when Melissa told me, I was surprised. (I can’t remember what story it was now.)

Me: “But she was very good!”

Melissa: “I know, I’ve told her that.”

Me: “Have you given her a hug?”

Melissa: “Several.”

Me: “Would it help to hear that she was good from someone else?”

Melissa: “Yes, please!”

We walked over to the girl, and Melissa introduced me.

Me: “I thought you were very good! You did a great job!”

She was still crying, and she shook her head and said, “No I wasn’t,” but I assured her that she did a good job. It was all I could do, really, and Melissa said thank you, and we parted.

I wanted to buy ice cream for my students, so I asked Komatsu-sensei about it, and she said it was okay. We asked the students what flavors they wanted, and then I went with Kamada-sensei in her car. I bought ice cream while Kamada-sensei bought donuts.

When we got back to school, all of the English teachers and the Speech Contest students were gathered in the library. Kamada-sensei and I passed out our treats, and we all ate and had a debriefing. The teachers and I gave some “comments”—which only means that we told them that they all did a wonderful job. I told them what the judges said, in simpler English, and that they all won first place in my heart.


Yusuke and Harukazu left with Kamada-sensei, but the third years stayed with Komatsu-sensei and Saito-sensei.

And then came the tears.

I was wondering when somebody would start crying.

Komatsu-sensei spoke to the girls, and she started to tear up, which made the girls tear up too. I’m not sure what she was saying to them, but I think it was a pep talk—only with crying. She said that they all tried very hard… and some other things that I didn’t understand.

After that final meeting, I asked to see the judge’s written comments. I don’t think they would have showed them to me unless I asked, which is one of the problems I’ve been having with every aspect of this school—no one tells me anything unless I ask about it, and most of the time, I don’t know that  there’s anything to ask about. But I’d heard about the written comments from Ebony, so I knew about those.

Komatsu-sensei had them hidden in a folder, and she said that we couldn’t let the students see them. I read through them, and I don’t know why we shouldn’t show the students—the comments were very positive!

All of the students scored very high, and the judges only had positive things to say! It was very encouraging. They liked Minami’s tone and how well she controlled the dialogue, and they loved—absolutely loved—Yusuke’s and Harukazu’s gestures. They told Mirano and Mei that they were great speakers and that if they practiced more, they would become really awesome at English. The only negative comment in the lot was for Mirano, and it was a bit of advice: “Work on your vowels!”

So overall, the judges’ reactions to my students were very positive! I’m so happy! Even if they didn’t win, they got high scores and wonderful feedback. Yay!

School Ceremony—Monday, Oct 1st

On Monday, they sprung a ceremony on me. No one told me about it until all of the other teachers were walking to the gym. The students had an election earlier last week for student council, so they announced the new student council members. They also handed out some trophies and certificates for some sports clubs—not sure why, maybe they just had a game or something.

Then Kamada-sensei, in the middle of the ceremony, walked up to me and said, “You’re going to present the Speech Contest awards, okay?”


She explained the procedure. I would read the certificate aloud the first time, and then after that I would only read the placement and then the name. I went up on stage with Kamada-sensei, the kids, and Kyoto-sensei (the vice principal), and I read all the names and handed everything to Kyoto-sensei before he handed it to the students. It was quick and painless, but again, it would have been nice to have some warning beforehand—you know, more than five minutes beforehand. Oh well! Not that a big a deal, I suppose.

So that was the end of the Awa Speech Contest! Now we only have Uekusa, but we have to wait until October 10th to hear if our students got accepted or not. We had to send recordings of the students reading, and they are judged from those and then admitted (or not) into the contest. So we will see!


When I woke up this morning, I had a song stuck in my head. I actually didn’t know what song it was, and I barely knew the lyrics. I only knew that it had the words “tell me” in it. I certainly didn’t know who the artist was.

However, when I went onto Youtube to find it, I automatically, without thinking, typed in this:

Madonna Don’t Tell Me

And it popped right up. Win. I know music.

So here is what I’ve been listening to all day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRLHro9EPD0

I stand by my statement from last entry: Madonna still kicks butt.

Cast of Characters

Mei as… one of my 3rd year students. She read a speech that I wrote about her friend from Wisconsin.

Mirano as… one of my 3rd year students. She recited “The Princess and the Pea” at the speech contest.

Yusuke as… one of my 1st year students. He played Jerry in the Tom & Jerry skit for the speech contest.

Harukazu as… one of my 1st year students. He played Tom in the Tom & Jerry skit for the speech contest.

Minami as… one of my 2nd year students. She recited a Japanese folktale for the speech contest.

Komatsu-sensei as… one of my JTEs. She teaches the 2nd and 3rd year students.

Kamada-sensei as… one of my JTEs. She teaches the 1st year students.

Kyoto-sensei as… the vice principal of Tomiura JHS. “Kyoto” is not his last name, it’s his title.


Oya-baka: Literally “foolish parent.”

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2 Responses to English Speech Contest—Part II

  1. Pingback: English Speech Contest—Part I | The Grand Adventure of El

  2. Kim says:

    I’m so proud of the kids!!!! Thanks for doing such a great job with them.
    It’s weird.. my first year I also thought that my kids were perfect, but my second year I started hearing all of the little things that made them sound too Japanese… like.. I can UNDERSTAND their English perfectly (which is an accomplishment) but it isn’t champion material.
    BUT Yay for 2nd years!!! I am glad I made the script excessively simple!

    It is such a good experience for them.. a lot of the speech contest kids go on to do the Wisconsin exchange and try to enter Awa High School English division! (which may no longer exist….)

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