SRU students shine in Japanese speech competition


Majerica Rainey

Majerica Rainey, a Slippery Rock University criminology major from Pittsburgh, participated and placed in the 2nd Annual Japanese Speech Contest for College Students in Western Pennsylvania, April 23 at SRU.

April 29, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Of the 128 million people that speak the Japanese language, 95 percent live in Japan with the remaining speakers scattered across the globe.

Count Western Pennsylvania as a point on the map.

In fact, several Slippery Rock University undergraduates have become so proficient in speaking the language they earned top three finishes at the 2nd Annual Japanese Speech Contest for College Students in Western Pennsylvania hosted by SRU, April 23.

The competition saw 25 students from SRU, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Kent State University compete in five levels of speech appropriate to their level of learning. The competition was open to all college students in the region who speak Japanese as a non-native language.

Students presented three to five minute speeches in the language and answered follow up questions from native speakers who served as judges.

SRU students that placed in the competition were:

  • Steven Dobbins, a finance major from Ellwood City, first place (level four);
  • Jason Eichenlaub, an information systems major from Butler, third place (level three);
  • Justin Kraus, a communication major from Aliquippa, second place (level one);
  • Katelyn Mays, a biology major from Evans City, third place (level two); and
  • Majerica Rainey, a criminology major from Pittsburgh, third place (level one)

Two other SRU students that competed were: Dominic Civitella, an English major from Easton (level three), and Dustin Zofchak, a English major from Athens, Ohio (level four).

"The world is so much bigger than the U.S. and I feel that a lot of American students often forget that," said Mays. "Learning a new language opens up many new opportunities, including possible career options. In my opinion, learning another language is crucial to becoming a cultured and open-minded person."

The contest required students to deliver a speech about their lives and interests that was appropriate to their proficiency level. Students could address such topics as family, career aspirations and favorite vacation destinations.

Levels for the competition were based on the number of classroom hours students had studied the language: level one required no more than 75 hours; level two, 76-150 hours; level three, 151-225 hours; level four 226-300 hours; and level 5, 301 or more hours.

Inquiries from the judges were based on information included in each presenter's speech as well as current events.

Yukako Ishimaru, SRU instructor of modern languages who teaches Japanese, said students benefit from language studies because it broadens their global perspective and could help them stand apart from other candidates when conducting a future job search.

SRU's department of modern languages and cultures, the Asian studies program and the Japan Foundation - which works on the international dissemination of Japanese culture - sponsored the competition.

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