MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University students in the department of global languages and theatre arts competed in the eleventh annual Tennessee Area Japanese Speech Contest hosted at Vanderbilt University on April 7.

The annual competition evaluates students’ command of the Japanese language, including the students’ control of grammar, pronunciation and fluency. Competitors memorize original manuscripts and then deliver speeches within a limited time frame. They must also answer a series of questions within a one-minute period of time.

The Murray State students competed under the direction of Yoko Hatakeyama, senior lecturer of Japanese, and Nate Heneghan, visiting assistant professor of Japanese. Hatakeyama and Heneghan guided the manuscript writing process and coached the students individually in preparation for their speeches and the judges’ possible questions. Students who placed in the competition include the following:

— Sunny Kwan, a senior with a double major in chemistry/pre-dentistry and Japanese as well as a minor in biology from Murray, won second place in level three competition, the highest level of competition at the contest

— Marie Norris, a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in Japanese from Owensboro, placed first in level two competition

— Scott Watson, a senior majoring in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) and minoring in Japanese from Bethalto, Illinois, placed second in level two competition

— Jazzy Martin, a junior with a double major in Japanese and Spanish teaching from Madisonville, placed third in level two competition

— Lara Justice, a junior with a double major in liberal arts and Japanese from Nashville, Tennessee, placed first in level one competition

Japanese majors Nathan Hensley (Johnson City, Tennessee) and Lilli Hanik (Fisherville) also participated in the competition.

Murray State has participated in the annual Tennessee Area Japanese Speech Contest since the contest began 11 years ago. This year, 42 students from eight universities participated, including Vanderbilt University, Austin Peay State University, Maryville College, Middle Tennessee State University, University of Memphis, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, University of Tennessee at Martin and Murray State.

The contest was organized by four host committees from Vanderbilt University, Middle Tennessee State University, University of Tennessee at Martin and Murray State. Students were judged by an assistant professor of Japanese from George Washington University and representatives from Japan Airlines and the Middle Tennessee Japan Society. The contest was sponsored by seven organizations, including Nissan, Japan Airlines, Mitsui & Co., Inc. and the Japan Foundation.

A group of students stand together on stairs holding a banner that reads "Tennessee Area Japanese Speech Contest."
Pictured, from left to right, are (front row) Sunny Kwan, Nathan Hensley, Marie Norris, Scott Watson (back row) Lara Justice, Lilli Hanik, Jazzy Martin, Nathaniel Heneghan and Yoko Hatakeyama.


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