Students showcase language skills at JAS speech contest

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Students showcase language skills at JAS speech contest

by: Jamie Tippit | .
The Iwakuni Approach | .
published: October 13, 2012

For the last 50 years, The Japanese American Society (JAS) has hosted an annual speech contest. Speech contests are held throughout Japan and are extremely popular. The purpose is to allow participants to present original composed speeches in a language other than their first language. The participants are placed in different categories based on their school grade and proficiency levels and judged by local educators from both Iwakuni City and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. This year, the JAS event will be held at the Sinfonia Iwakuni on Nov. 4, 2012. Our contest is advertised in both Yamaguchi and Hiroshima Prefectures. It averages around 100 participants, both American and Japanese, and is unique for the following reasons.

First, the contest is a community service event for our organization; therefore, we waive the typical registration fee of 1,000 yen which other contest coordinators charge throughout Japan. This is greatly appreciated by our participants and reflects positively on JAS and MCAS Iwakuni.

Second, our speech contest is the only contest in all of Japan that is open to elementary school-age students. It is truly a unique opportunity we are offering the youth in this area. Because of its immense popularity, we are discussing ways to allow for a larger number of students in this age range to participate.

Third, and most importantly, our speech contest has what other contests do not. We have categories specifically designed for American participants giving speeches in Japanese. In the past, we had MCAS Iwakuni active duty Marines, spouses, Department of Defense civilians and students from Matthew C. Perry Schools participate. Some of the adult participants take Japanese classes from JAS and others from the University of Maryland University College or other schools. Many of the students participating in this contest learn Japanese in the DoD Education Activity schools, the Japanese school system, such as yochien and shogokko, or through Kumon and other tutoring programs. This year, JAS will provide tutoring at no cost to the students, to help them prepare for the contest. This is a unique opportunity for the residents of MCAS Iwakuni not only to show off their language skills but also to interact positively with the community. It helps participants to get comfortable speaking in front of large groups, as there are approximately 300 people in attendance each year.

The purpose of JAS is to strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding between the citizens of the U.S. located here at MCAS Iwakuni and the Japanese citizens of the local community. The primary means of accomplishing this goal is through education, social and cultural opportunities. For more information about the speech contest, please call the JAS Office at 253-4744 or email

Tags: Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Education
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