On Tuesday last week, I went with my students to the Miyazaki Technical English Presentation Competition. (Or, whatever the name was. Doesn’t matter, close enough.) This was the first year my school chose to enter the competition. My supervisor reached out to four students who she knew enjoyed English and suggested they do a presentation about the fashion show they do every year at the school festival.
Since I had never been to the competition before, I had no idea how we would rank amongst the other teams. I thought the presentation was interesting, at least. We only spent a month or so practicing with the students, which seemed like a really short time compared to how long we spend on the speech contest and other things. Still, the girls were as prepared as they could be with the schedule.
On the day of the presentation, I mostly chatted with them on the train ride down, but occasionally quizzed them on their answers for the Q&A they were told would happen. We knew the judges would be asking questions, but had no idea how difficult they would be. I tried to make my questions more difficult than I thought they would be, just so the girls were over-prepared.
For their presentation, the girls wanted to do a mini fashion show to make the format of their presentation more interesting. Two of the girls actually wore the dresses they made and wore for the school’s fashion show. The music on their presentation cut out suddenly, but the student acting as the MC started singing into her microphone, picking up where the music left off. I was incredibly proud of how she handled it (especially because I had told them twice before the presentation to remember to keep going if there was a technology problem; not to let it freeze them up).
The rest of the presentation went pretty smoothly. One of the girls (the only one who not been involved in the English Speech Contest) was really nervous and stumbled over a few of her lines, but overall they were great. I was grinning the whole time, especially because they were the only group so far who did not need to look at their scripts.
And then a few other groups went and I could tell the girls were thinking they were going to lose. I would never tell them, (I told my supervisor, though) but I thought we would end up in third place.
While the judges tabulated the results, the JTEs and ALTs attended an information sharing session. We discussed how we found students who were interested, how we decided what they should present on, and how long they practiced. I ended up being the one to speak first in most cases. I tried to get my supervisor to speak more, but I think most of the teachers were a little intimidated by the ALTs speaking. Still, I think we were all aware and tried to keep our speech slower and idiom/slang free for the most part. A herd of foreigners can be very difficult to understand when speaking at normal speeds.
After that, it was time for the awards ceremony. When the third place winner was announced at the end of the competition, I felt my heart sink. Oh well, I thought, there’s always next year. I could tell the girls thought they had lost as well. And then the winner was announced.
Tomishima High School.
I sincerely thought I had misheard at first until the students and my supervisor started reacting. Two of the girls started crying and my supervisor looked like she was close. Once all the awards were handed out, other ALTs came up to congratulate me. I was so incredibly proud of my students.
The next day, my supervisor and I were back at school. At our English meeting that day, I mentioned that I was in charge of an upcoming MAJET event, the Amazing Race. My supervisor then mentioned that she thought I seemed like a leader of the other ALTs during our meeting. I really do not think that is true, but I mentioned that I will probably be the president of MAJET next year, but only because no one else wants the job. The other English teachers gave me a small round of applause for that. I tried to assure them that it was not as big of a deal as they thought it was, but they insisted it was. They said they were proud that I was their ALT.
And days like that make me glad I signed on for another year.