The swords are out at Nihongo Cup 2011



On Saturday 18 June, the Embassy of Japan played host to the final of the 11th Nihongo Cup Speech Contest. Organised by the Japanese Language Committee of the Association of Language Learning, this annual competition is open to any pupil aged 11 - 18 who is studying Japanese at secondary school.

This year there were three categories: Key Stage 3 (ages 11 - 14), Key Stages 4 and 5 pre-GCSE (ages 14 - 18) and Key Stages 4 and 5 post-GCSE. Key Stage 3 pupils were asked to speak on the theme "My favourite place", with all other pupils having a free choice. There were a total of 279 entries from 19 schools.


Six finalists selected from each category were invited to the finals day to make their speeches in front of an audience including their parents, teachers, friends, sponsors and of course the judges - a challenging prospect for a young person. As usual, the standards of both the Japanese and the presentation skills of the young people were very high. As an additional challenge, finalists in the Key Stages 4 and 5 post-GCSE category were put through their paces following their speech with a Q&A in Japanese.

First prize in the Key Stages 4 and 5 post-GCSE category was awarded to Joe Littler of King Edward VII school, who spoke on "Making a Japanese Sword". As part of his prize, Joe has won the chance to go and present his speech in Japan at the Japanese Speech Awards final. First prize in the Key Stages 4 and 5 pre-GCSE category was awarded to Winnie Fan of Wycliffe College, with Rebecca Young from South Wolds School taking the first prize in the KS3 category.

Chair of Judges Mary-Grace Browning commented that this year was the toughest yet in terms of choosing winners due to the brilliant language ability of all those who took part.

As well as the speeches, guests were treated to performances by the Green Chorus, the Nippon Club women's choir, before the day was brought to a close with a delicious buffet reception.

Once again the Nihongo Cup confirmed the positive state of Japanese language study in the UK.



Lydia Morey

Chair, Japanese Language Committee of the Association for Language Learning