It has already been over eight months since the NSLI-Y students came to Korea and started studying Korean. Recently several students applied to the 19th Annual Foreigners Korean Speech Contest, organized by Kyunghee University, as a way to put their new language skills to the test. Alexi, Will, Lauren C., and Ally all volunteered to apply, and began writing their introductions and speech scripts, in Korean. The prompt was “describe your experience in Korea.” They went through multiple revising processes with their Korean class teachers to refine their scripts.
According to a local press, 1,325 people applied for the contest and only 68 of them made it to the first round, including NSLI-Y student Ally! On April 26th, Ally visited Kyunghee University to give her speech on her experience at her high school. Below is Ally’s reflection after the first round:
All in all, whether I passed or not, I’m proud of myself. I proved to myself that my Korean has come this far: knowing no Korean to giving a speech in front of dignified educators.
“I’ve always been terrified of public speaking. Yet somehow, as the NSLIYans were told of this Korean speaking contest for foreigners, I surprised myself by giving it serious thought. My Korean language teacher told me it wouldn’t hurt to try and that it would ultimately help my speaking, confidence, and stage fright in the future. I began the month-long endeavor of pulling up a rough draft, scrapping it, pushing out another draft with a shifted topic focus, editing and editing and editing. Finally, I arrived at a semi-decent final draft. I submitted the script and waited for what came next. To my immense surprise, I passed. Shortly after, I learned there was another hurdle before the real contest.
The day arrived. I practiced in front of a few NSLIYans before being pulled out of Korean class and accompanied to the university. I kept my school uniform on and mouthed my speech the whole way. I practiced hard, thinking of my teachers and friends’ words of encouragement I’d heard throughout the day and, when my name was called, I walked up to the mic and laid out the speech. All in all, whether I passed or not, I’m proud of myself. I proved to myself that my Korean has come this far: knowing no Korean to giving a speech in front of dignified educators. It took a lot to get here, but it has been worth it.”
Participating in the Korean speech contest was very meaningful for the NSLI-Y students because it shows how much their Korean skills have improved in the past eight months. Not only were they able to explain in Korean what they have experienced in Korea, but they could also articulate their feelings and thoughts in a speech form. Though it was a challenging moment for Ally, she was able to overcome her fear of speech.
For any Korean language speakers, here is a clip of Ally’s impressive speech:
Ally is a NSLI-Y participant in the 2015-2016 Korea Academic Year program.