It gives us pleasure...

It gives us pleasure...

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Jonathan Wong
(From left) Wong Man-him, Sarah Joan Pemberton, James Chung Kwan-chi, and Nicole Hurip. Photo: Jonathan Wong

While many students are scared of speaking in public, some have a passion for it, writes Wong Yat-hei

This year's English public-speaking contest hosted by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and Standard Chartered Bank attracted a record 2,132 participants from 152 schools. The competition aims to cultivate young people's English public-speaking skills and build their confidence.

Young Post caught up with some of the contestants, including finalists, who got together to record their speeches. The grand finalists will compete on April 10 for a HK$1,500 book voucher.

Wong Man-him, a semi-finalist from TWGHs C.Y. Ma Memorial College, says he learns English mostly from watching English-language movies or listening to radio as most of his family and friends do not speak English. 'I listen to BBC Learning English podcasts a lot. I replay sentences over and over again to listen clearly to the words and pronounce them properly,' the Form Six student says. The dictionary is another favourite teaching aid for Man-him. 'When I was in Form Three, I read the dictionary and became interested in international phonetic alphabets. I want to learn these to improve my pronunciation,' he says. 'I love reading dictionaries. I ask my friends to give them to me for my birthday. I have about 15 of them.'

With encouragement from his friends, Man-him joined the public speaking contest to test his knowledge of English. 'It was my first attempt at public speaking,' he says. 'I think the competition will boost my confidence in speaking English. This is important for someone like me who grew up in an all-Chinese environment.'

James Chung Kwan-chi is a grand finalist. A Form Three student at HKMA David Li Kowk Po College, Kwan-chi saw the contest as a good way to become a better communicator. 'Public speaking is about presenting yourself and persuading others,' he says. 'I think these are important skills that one needs on top of academic results.'

Another grand finalist, Chinese International School Year 12 student Sarah Joan Pemberton, has been involved in public speaking since Year Six and loves it.

'Our school offers many chances for students to speak in front of people. The more I do it, the more I enjoy it,' Sarah says.

'When I make a speech I want listeners to gain more understanding of the topic I'm talking about and hopefully their perspective on the issue will be changed.'

Nicole Hurip, a Form Three student at Marymount Secondary School, is a first-time participant in the contest. She was greatly surprised to be selected for the grand finals. 'At school I did a lot of recitals, which I think is very rigid compared to public speaking. In public speaking I am able to say what I want. I really enjoy expressing myself freely.'

Ten finalists have been chosen from the 68 semi-finalists after two rounds of competition. Last Friday, participants who finished from 6th place to 10th place delivered their speeches again.

Their performances are posted online. Click here or on the banner above to vote for the contestant that you think should be in the finals. Votes close on Monday.

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