Nine UCSB students recently competed in an annual Chinese speech contest and received top marks.

On April 20, the students from the East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies Dept. Chinese Language Program participated in the 27th annual Mandarin Speech Contest of California at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco. They matched up against approximately 200 contestants from schools such as UC Berkeley, Stanford and San Francisco State University and were tested in different categories based on their year and semester of experience.

“We were all a bit nervous. Everyone else seemed so prepared,” said Ella Tran, a sophomore biology major who placed first in the first-year, second-semester category.

Students had to prepare a two to five minute speech and recite it in front of judges. Five of the nine participants received individual trophies, and UCSB placed in almost every category it participated in. David Yamada, a senior business economics major, placed first in the fourth-year category. Yoon-ju Kang and Isaac Ko both placed third in their respective categories, and Ian Chua, a junior communication and psychology major, placed second in the second-year, second-semester category.

Makiko Kosaka, Cam Uyen Lam Tran, Chitoku Yato and Ben Segal also participated. Yu-Chun Hwang, a lecturer in the East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies Dept., and her teaching assistant, Qianshu Xia, accompanied the students to San Francisco.

“Ms. Hwang helped me so much,” Ella Tran said. “I’m so grateful for all her help. She not only helped me, but she helped each and every student. She and Ms. Hsiao-Jung Yu [director of the Chinese Language Program] didn’t pressure us, they encouraged us to have fun and enjoy the learning experience.”

Hwang, who will be leaving for Taiwan in two months, volunteered her time to prepare the students along with her colleagues, Daoxiong Guan, Chen-Chuan Hsu, Han-Yun Chang, and Scott Gregory. The lecturers and TAs helped the students prepare for the competition by scheduling group study sessions in addition to their normal office hours for two months prior to the competition.

“I think this competition was very good for the students,” Hwang said. “I think the competition is a good place for students to show what they have learned.”

The program at UCSB is known for its success in the competition. The university has participated for the last 10 years, since Yu became director of the Chinese Language Program in 1992.

“We do well every year,” Yu said. “Every year we always place first, second or third or receive honorable mention in the categories we participate in.”

The participants competed on a voluntary basis. Instructors invited the students to join the contest as an extension of their learning experience, as well as an opportunity to meet other students who are studying the Chinese language and culture.

“I wanted to do it for the experience and because Cam [Uyen Lam Tran] wanted to do it to,” Ella Tran said.

The students and their teachers paid for the hotel fees, registration fees and other expenses. The university covered the transportation fees.

The event, which is sponsored by the Chinese Language Teachers Association of California, has become the largest contest of its kind in the United States. There are four divisions of competition: elementary school, middle school, high school and college.

The CLTAC, one of the largest Chinese teachers associations in the U.S., is a non-profit organization whose goal is to promote the Chinese language and learning in California.

For pictures from the East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies Dept. Chinese Language Program, please visit