Competitive languages

Contest participants: (back row from left) Ying Wang (faculty), Virginia Henning ’20, Odiche Nwabuikwu ’18, Gillian Hagen ’20 and Clara Wang ’19. (Front row from left) Lei Yan (faculty), Sarah Ratzlaff ’20, Catherine Peabody ’20 and Lisha Xu (faculty).

By Sasha Nyary 

Four Chinese language students at Mount Holyoke College students won top honors at the Five College Chinese Speech Contest this spring. Three students swept the Speech Master category in all three levels of proficiency. 

The Speech Master winners were Odiche Nwabuikwu ’18 at the beginning level for her speech entitled, “The Story of When I Bought Shoes;” Clara Wang ’19, intermediate, for “Discussing Immigrants;” and Catherine Peabody ’20, advanced, for “My Grandfather Quit Smoking.” 

In addition, Virginia Henning ’20 won the prize for best pronunciation and tone at the intermediate level for her speech, “Roast Duck and Fried Chicken.” 

The annual Five College Chinese Speech Contest, now in its ninth year, is hosted by the Chinese language programs on the campuses of the Five College Consortium. Each participating institution sends six students, two for each level of proficiency, to the competition. This year, 24 students from Mount Holyoke, Smith and Amherst colleges and UMass Amherst participated.

The goal is to promote Chinese language learning and demonstrate student and faculty achievements, said Ying Wang, a professor of Asian studies

“Chinese is considered as one of the most difficult languages in the world,” Wang said. “The fact that so many of our students won top prizes this year testifies to their commitment, dedication and hard work. We hope that our prizewinners will set a good example for other students to face the challenges of learning Chinese and seek success in doing it.” 

Results such as these are also very meaningful to the faculty, Wang said, noting that the other Chinese language professors are Lisha Xu, Lei Yan and Alice Shin-Yi Kao

“it is extremely rewarding to see one’s hard work produce good results,” she said. 

Additionally, Xueji Wang ’20 won the annual Japanese Language Contest for New England in the college beginner division this spring. 

The contest is organized by the Consulate General of Japan in Boston. Last year, Xueying Xu ’18 won first place in the same contest. 

Encouraging students to become proficient in languages other than English is an essential aspect of Mount Holyoke’s goal to prepare students to respond to the needs and challenges of the global society. 

The College offers a dozen languages, including ancient Greek, Arabic and Korean. Students can also take study languages independently through the Five College Center for the Study of World Languages, including less commonly taught languages such as Swahili, Turkish, Urdu and Wolof. 

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