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Power of speech focal point at annual English language competition
The Third Belt and Road Youth English Speaking Competition and the China Daily "21st Century Cup" National English Speaking Competition, ended on Wednesday after four days of contestants demonstrating their English ability and sharing their perspectives on global issues.
Starting in September last year, the Belt and Road competition initially drew 200 participants from more than 30 countries and regions, while the "21st Century Cup" attracted 1 million from inside China. The number of contestants was whittled down to 30 and 400, respectively, for the joint competition in Chengdu.
The themes of some of the speeches given at the competition included "The Promise of Youth" and "The Power of Ideals".
In the "21st Century Cup" competition, Yang Kangqi, from Fudan University in Shanghai, and Wang Licheng, from the Shanghai Foreign Language School Affiliated to Shanghai International Studies University, won the College and Senior High School categories, respectively.
Jin Zhao, from Nanjing Normal University, and Yu Yue, from the Nanjing Foreign Language School, both in Jiangsu province, won in the Youth and Junior High School categories.
Meanwhile, Duliya Desilva, from the University of Indonesia, claimed first prize in the Belt and Road competition. In her speech on the power of ideals, Yang Kangqi, who is a medical student, said that her ideal is not to cure every patient but to comfort them, operating not on them but for them.
Hope is the definition of the doctor's mission, she said.
"Every day, this same ideal gives us clarity of vision, empowering us to work long hours on the wards, to practice handling the scalpel and tying knots and, most importantly, to have hope and to give hope."
Ren Wen, dean of the graduate school of translation and interpretation at Beijing Foreign Studies University, who served as one of the judges, said it was the panel's consensus that all the contestants did a fantastic job showcasing their command and delivery of English and their critical thinking skills.
According to Ren, public speaking is about two things: what you say and how you say it. Public speaking and storytelling are part and parcel of leadership skills, because they are necessary to the strategic positioning of ideas and to getting ideas across to the audience in an effective manner, while the critical thinking needed for public speaking is useful in every field, Ren said.
In this increasingly globalized world, public speaking skills, together with the ability to express ideas and voice opinions in English is important, not only to increase employability, but also to share China's stories with the world.
Mei Deming, a professor of English and linguistics at Shanghai International Studies University, said that to tell China's story to the world, Gen Z-ers must first love their motherland, the Party and the people.
In addition, they should have a global perspective and understand the importance of building a community with a shared future for mankind, he said, adding that the younger generation should find a major they are passionate about and improve their abilities as they gain professional knowledge, and that cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary learning were both important.
Robin Gilbank, an associate English professor at Northwest University in Xi'an in Shaanxi province, said that he was impressed by the quality of the contestants and that they had shown great maturity for their age.
Participating in a competition like this could help boost their confidence, so when they are older and have more encounters with the outside world, they will be more outgoing and capable of relating their ideas and experience, he said.
Wang Guan, a news anchor and host at CGTN, said that the key qualities China's Gen Z-ers need to tell China's story well are empathy and nuance.
They should have empathy for other cultures and for what their counterparts are experiencing. Moreover, they should have the ability to present nuanced explanations of what China and Chinese culture are, he said.
Wang, who is a former"21st Century Cup" contestant himself, called for more emphasis on teaching ability to express oneself fluently as Chinese students have been taught for a long time that actions speak louder than words.
The 21st Century Cup has filled the gap and built a community of support, so that young students can practice, demonstrate their abilities and possibly form lifelong friendships, he added.
A subsidiary of China Daily, 21st Century English Education Media began the "21st Century Cup" National English Speaking Competition in 1996.
The top three winners who meet the age requirements for the International Public Speaking Competition, an event held annually in London, have the opportunity to represent China and demonstrate the ability and fluency of Chinese youth on the world stage.
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