Top student speakers impressed with their communication skills and awareness of social issues at the judging of the Student of the Year Award - Linguist.
On January 19, aspiring young speakers and writers gathered at the Hong Kong Jockey Club in Happy Valley to compete for top honours in the linguist category.
This year, finalists had to give an oral presentation on the topic "Make a difference, be the change". Participants were required to introduce themselves, make a speech and answer questions from the judging panel. There are separate English, Cantonese and Putonghua awards.
One of the judges, Virginia Yip, a professor from Chinese University's Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, said the finalists of all the categories have shown strong leadership and the ability to make an impact with their words.
"Some contestants, they may not be from a privileged background, but they still stand out," she said. "I think this can show other students that you don't need to come from a certain background or certain school to achieve a high level."
Another judge, Cheung Hin-tat, a professor and head of Hong Kong Institute of Education's Department of Linguistics and Modern Language Studies, said the self-introduction and Q&A were the most important sessions. Unlike the public speech, they could not be prepared for in advance.
"In the public speech, there's a lot of preparation beforehand and students might get help on that," he said. "The other parts are more personal. It gives you an idea of how they think the language is linked to their future development. I'm impressed by the finalists' concern for society."
For Ana Lo Wai-wun, from Po Leung Kuk No 1 W. H. Cheung College and one of the finalists for the English award, just taking part in the competition has inspired her.
Coming from a local school, she didn't have the English language resources other students enjoy.
"By taking part in the competition, I get the chance to make a difference. I love English and I hope my achievement will inspire my school to devote more resources to helping students learn English," she said.
Ana's passion definitely made an impression on the judges.
"It's quite difficult to decide what points you give for someone who has achieved tremendously despite not having an English-speaking school, or overseas trips, or coming from an English-speaking home," said Young Post's editor, Susan Ramsay, another of the judges.
Ramsay was more impressed by Ana's attitude than her performance.
"For us to choose somebody from that kind of background, it has to be exceptional. Maybe not so on their delivery, maybe not so on their accent, maybe not so on their grammar, but the absolute passion for the language, for getting something done, and for helping others, and being a change maker in this area," she said.
"Linguistics is not just about speaking, it's about getting messages across, it's about choosing the right words, it's also maybe about writing, singing, acting."