Mandarin Students Excel in Chinese Language Speech Contest

Maureen Schick , Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Nine students recently attended the 12th Annual Chinese Language Speech Contest at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  The results were a compliment to the new Mandarin language program at NDA.

This contest welcomed all students from kindergarten through college, as well as beginners to advanced native speakers. During this event, the students prepared and delivered speeches and recitations and told stories in Mandarin.

Junior Alexa Algas, who took Mandarin because she was interested in the culture and will possibly teach English in China in the future, was one of the participants. She competed in the non-heritage beginner level and placed first overall.

To prepare for the competition, she “worked with the Mandarin teacher three times a week during study hall and practiced presenting the actual speech after school in front of the other participants.”

Algas explains that Mandarin is very different from English because there are many different tones. She said, “A couple of words can be spelled the same, but they all have different meanings according to the tones.”

Mrs. Qiuhong Zhang, the Mandarin teacher, echoes that “Chinese pronunciation is so different from English, making it challenging for beginning learners.” She was very proud of her students.

“In the first year of Mandarin at NDA, six Mandarin I girls chose to participate in this contest, and this demonstrates that they are confident in themselves and their teacher,” she said.

Although it can be tough to learn, she noted “Mandarin is very beneficial, especially if you would want to major in international business.”

“I am very happy about winning the whole competition,” said Algas, “but I am really proud of the others who participated with me. We put so much effort into this competition, and we cheered each other on.”

Another participant in the beginner, non-heritage division, Amolia Schneider, earned third place overall. She continued to take Mandarin at NDA because she took it in middle school and thinks it will help her in the future with jobs and college applications.

In addition to the speeches that the students performed, Schneider and the students also took place in the Chinese “Qipao,” which is a cultural and traditional dress performance. The Qipao involved a series of movements across the stage to showcase the traditional dress.

Mrs. Zhang said, “They showed the audiences how gorgeous and talented our NDA girls are!”

Results for the high school non-heritage/beginner level included Algas receiving first place, Brenda Aguilar and Schneider both receiving third place, and Ariana DelMoral, Jessica Reigh and Stephanie Staed earning an honorable mention.

In the high school non-heritage/advanced level, Joel Kiernan finished in first place, Kai Assef in second place, and William Schneider in third place.

Mrs. Zhang says, “I am very proud of my students for their hard work, determination and confidence. They wrote their own pieces and gave time to practice and practice.  It was a wonderful opportunity of learning.”