Helping My Students in China: An English Language Contest Approaches

The Communist Party of China will commemorate its 100th anniversary in July, as the country largely succeeds in containing the coronavirus and experiences a robust economic recovery.

It’s a little disappointing that I won’t be returning in time for this momentous occasion. There are numerous events planned until the end of 2021, most of those starting in July and ballooning onward until the year ends.

In Sichuan Province, which is where my city is located, I’ve just been asked to help our college students with an English language speech contest, the topic of which is in praise of the Communist party: “100 Years of Glory: The World Listens to Me.”

I do think it rather strange that the contest is in English, mostly because within the past 5 years, the Communist Party has not been a great fan of overseas’ influences on their young people. “Foreign” holidays that once were incorporated into culture classes in elementary and secondary schools were recently frowned upon as being unpatriotic and detrimental to China’s youth. Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving were among those. The education bureau instead told teachers to concentrate on traditional Chinese celebrations. At the college level, such restrictions were never an issue since my students were considered adults but the younger generations were a different story.

Contest details, as explained to me

The contest is sponsored by Sichuan and Chongqing Provincial Library Society in cooperation with the Committee of Sichuan Provincial Higher Education. According to the competition’s website, the 3-minute speeches are to “focus on the great achievements made by the Communist Party of China in its 100th anniversary. The topics spoken are to promote the spirit of the Communist Party of China and convey China’s strength to the world. The activities will be carried online and on-site.”

April 1-20th, participants were to register and post their recordings online for preliminary rounds. Those who pass the first selection process will move on to a second round of eliminations before entering the finals in June. The June participants will be required to attend the live contest with the location and time yet to be determined.

From what I understand, the contest is open to anyone, not just college students. I know this is a daunting task for many English majors at my school, especially as we are a 3-year college (similar a junior college). We don’t have the high English standards required by a 4-year university. A majority of those in the English Department struggle to even put together a decent sentence.

My College’s English Association: “Let’s give it a try!”

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The English Association, which is a club composed of 200 + students of all majors, is usually the one to host any language contest on my campus. School-sponsored contests, however, are very different than the one Bruce was advocating. That competition encompasses the entire province as well as Chongqing municipality. The competition will be extensive due to the wide range of individuals able to enter. Chonqing is a city of 31 million; Sichuan has a population of 81 million; Luzhou, the city of my school, is 5 million. Among the populations are university students from the best schools, business individuals whose overseas contacts heighten their needed English language skills, dedicated English hobby enthusiasts and language teachers whose daily use of English gives them a leg up in taking away such contest prizes.

Speaking of prizes, the ones being offered are quite substantial. Grand prize is 3,000 Yuan ($500), 3 1st prizes follow (1,000 yuan, $175), 5 second place prizes (500 yuan, $80) and other numerous honorable mentions at 100 yuan ($16) were listed in the announcements.

Giving my Expertise: The Before

Once again, it was Bruce (our school translation expert) who contacted me with a request for help. He sent me what a student had given him for entry, which I felt was a worthy and valiant effort.

This book shows the strength and bravery of Comrade Wu Yunduo! I believe that every reader will be deeply moved by his hardworking and tenacious spirit. No matter what age or job we are, we must fight it. This book shows the growth of a soldier and the ideological development of a Party member. Give everything to the Party represents the true thought of a Party member who fought bloody battles. Give everything to the party, whether in war years or in peace times, represents the determination of every real member of Communist Party!

And the After

The foundation was spot-on. This was a well-constructed, nicely laid out, strongly emotional speech. It was merely a matter of tidying up a few grammatical errors, pulling in a couple of more accurate word choices and nailing home an impassioned patriotic plea which would send it sailing into a national level competition category. Thus here is what I came up with:

This book shows the strength and bravery of Comrade Wu Yunduo.  I believe every reader will be deeply moved by his hardworking, tenacious spirit.  No matter what age we are or what job we have, we must strive to uphold the high ideals of Wu Yunduo.  This book reveals the evolution of a great soldier and the ideological development of a Party member.  His steadfast patriotism represents the true essence of a Party member, one who gives his everything, even while fighting in appalling, grisly battles. Wu Yunduo offers us an iconic model to follow:   Whether in war years or in peace time, giving your all must represent the determination of every real member of the Communist Party.  Let us follow in our hero’s footsteps and unite as one for the well-being of all!  

 The results:  Still yet to be revealed

The last I heard, the student had sent in her recording during the designated time period and passed the preliminaries.  The second round is to take place at the end May, which is coming up.  Cross your fingers  that she sails through to the finals, bringing glory and honor to our school.  One can always hope!

About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
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