Apparently only 10 percent of the population enjoy the challenge of public speaking, and that number must drop significantly when asked to step up to the mic and speak in a non-native language!
However, the high stakes didn't deter 17 budding bilingual students at Matthew Flinders Anglican College who chose to put their French and Japanese skills to the test in front of judging panels on Sunday, 21 August.
Bravely going beyond their comfort zones, the students from across Years 5 to 12 competed at the 2022 Modern Languages Teachers’ Association of Queensland (MLTAQ) Speech Competition at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
At Flinders, students learn both French and Japanese as part of the core curriculum from Year 3 to Year 9 and can then choose either language as electives until graduation in Year 12.
Research shows that children who learn a second language develop skills in problem-solving, critical-thinking and listening, as well as improve their memory, concentration and the ability to multitask.
Languages are also important for teaching diversity, empathy and citizenship, which is integral to learning at Flinders as the aim is for students to develop as empowered, compassionate and aware citizens.
All 17 Flinders students who competed in the 2022 MLTAQ contest represented the College admirably, with 13 students presenting in French language and three students in Japanese.
Students presented to judging panels either a set speech or prescribed topic up to three minutes in length, depending on their age level.
Ten of the students achieved awards, including three gold, two silver, two bronze and four highly commended.
For photos and results, see below.
Achieving the top gold medal awards were Flinders Year 9 student Katie Lower for her French speech and in Year 12 Seina Keir who achieved two Gold medals for her French and Japanese Open Division speeches.
Seina is working towards being trilingual and enters both language categories each year. She was recognised for her consistent and excellent efforts by the MLTAQ jury who gave her gifts on behalf of the French association.
Seina's mother is Japanese, and so Seina learnt the language naturally as she grew up and attended school in Japan. As for French, Seina started learning the language when she joined Flinders in Year 6.
“I've always enjoyed learning languages,” Seina said. “However, I would say the continuous encouragement from my teachers at Flinders has pushed me to keep going and continue improving my skills, even when I felt like giving up.
“I find the hardest parts of the MLTAQ speech contest are answering questions from the judges and memorising the speech. I enjoyed writing the speeches, as I always learnt something new or improved my skills along the way.”
Seina plans to take a gap year upon her imminent graduation. “I’m planning to go to France on an exchange program, which I'm very excited for. I know that languages will always remain a core part of my life.
“It's super cool to be able to communicate with people from different countries, which is definitely my favourite thing about languages.”
Quality Teaching at Flinders in Modern Languages
Language teachers at Flinders prepare students through the curriculum as well as co-curricular club offerings at lunchtimes and after and before school in both the Primary and Secondary Schools.
Flinders Head of French, Mrs Jane Boussalem said all students involved in the 2022 MLTAQ Speech Contest should be congratulated for choosing to be involved and striving to develop skills in their French and Japanese language focus.
“It takes great courage, resilience and hard work to speak a second (or third!) language in a judged contest,” Jane said.
“All students involved must be congratulated for stepping beyond their comfort zones and persisting with their study in class and at home.”
MLTAQ 2022 RESULTS FOR FLINDERS' STUDENTS
Here are the MLTAQ results and a selection of photos of some of the Flinders students who participated in the 2022 contest. Congratulations to all involved!
FRENCH - SECONDARY SCHOOL
Eve S – Highly Commended
Stella H – Silver medal
Jack M – Bronze medal
Katie L – Gold medal
Sam T – Highly Commended
Lilly M – Silver medal
Seina K – Gold (for French and Japanese)
Sophia Y – Highly Commended
JAPANESE - SECONDARY SCHOOL
Jaylan T - Highly Commended
Seina K - Gold (for French and Japanese)
FRENCH - PRIMARY SCHOOL
JAPANESE - PRIMARY SCHOOL
John M – Bronze medal