Wednesday, July 6, 2022

UM Wins Japanese Speech Contest

Photo courtesy of the University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi students took home top honors in the South Central Japanese Speech Contest at Tulane University.

Four of seven participating UM students won awards at the contest, which brought together 31 students from Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama in late March.

“The students in our Japanese language program are exceptional,” said Donald Dyer, chair and professor of modern languages. “They have developed high-level linguistic skills and are very motivated to succeed.”

Zhen Guo, an engineering graduate student from China, took home first place in the first-year level, while Nicholas Denette, a sophomore chemical engineering major from Waveland, won first place in the second-year level. Brittany Linkous, a senior English major from Cleveland, received the Consul General of Japan Award. Eduardo Lopez, a senior political science major from Greenville, won second place in the third-year or higher level.

“We encourage students in all our language programs to compete at such venues,” Dyer said. “We find such competitions to be beneficial to students’ linguistic confidence and their abilities to speak publicly and to perform, critically important competencies in high-level language learning.”

The students’ success at the competition is illustrative of not only their dedication to the language, but also of the dedication and professionalism shown by Kaoru Ochiai, instructional assistant professor of modern languages, and teaching assistant Yukari Nakajima, Dyer said.

“It is all the students’ efforts,” Ochiai said. “I feel the students who prepared ahead of time and worked on the speech for long hours won the prizes. Each student (who participated) is motivated to learn Japanese and had the guts to try it out.”

The UM Department of Modern Languages offers an undergraduate minor in Japanese that emphasizes language and culture. For more information, visit

Story by, Lindsey Abernathy provided by Ole Miss News

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