Speaking contest?

Two days ago my language partner suggested that I sign up for the speaking contest arranged by the Korean embassy. I was spooked. Speaking is my biggest weakness and 3-5 minutes might not seem like a long time, but I’m pretty sure it will feel like an awfully long time if you forget what you were planning to say while looking at those in the audience who study Korean at university and/or who’ve been to Korea several times.

On the one hand it would be really exciting to participate. On the other, I cannot help but think how much I’m lacking. I wonder how it works. Do they ask questions at the end or do you “just” have to speak?

It’s a requirement that you state how long you have been studying when signing up for the competition. Surely I started studying Korean 2 years and a couple of months ago, but I haven’t “studied” for two years. The number of hours I spent at work so far and at uni during 2014 would explain a lot. Even some of my work superiors regularly mistake me for a a full-time employee.

Yesterday I was so certain that I definitely wouldn’t do it. Now, I catch myself toying with the thought of actually going. How did that happen???

Maybe because it’s my weakest point I should go? As a friend put it, “worst case scenario is that you don’t do well… It’s not like they are going to take away your birthday. And maybe you meet people and learn something from them”.

I still have a while to decide. What do you think? When is one “ready” to speak in a contest? I don’t feel ready.


2 thoughts on “Speaking contest?

  1. boradolee

    Hello. i’m boradolee and i’m a student. i saw your article. i’m very happy you learn Korean! Actually i’m a Korean:) i don’t like speaking in front of many people, too. so i could understand you. last year, i participated in English speaking contest. i worried about it until the contest was begun. i was so nervous that i failed the cintest, however, the next time i participated in the contest this year, i believed “i can do it” and practiced very hard until the contest was begun. so i want you to ask when speaking contest is held?before the contest held, practice very hard, do yout best! i think you should participated in that contest, good luck it will be very good experience:)

    1. koreanlearner Post author

      Hello and thank you for your comment 🙂
      I haven’t signed up yet, but I think I might end up doing it.
      Being uncomfortable speaking in public is not so uncommon it seems… Speaking in a foreign language you’re not more or less fluent in can, however, be downright terrifying. It’s great that you did well the second time and overcame your nerves! Very inspiring 🙂

      I think you’re right, it’s all about practice. I would need to really really practice to be sure that it sticks even under pressure. My language partner says the same would apply to a native speaker of Korean, that most people would practice rather than doing the speech “cold”. Of course she is right. That being said, what if they ask questions at the end and I cannot answer either because I don’t understand the question or don’t have the vocabulary to reply??? One thing is spending three weeks structuring a speech and practicing it until you could be woken up at 3am and recite it without problems, but that doesn’t mean that you actually “speak a language”. I guess most things are context specific, though; Even native speakers of a language can have problems with vocabulary if they are not familiar with the subject.


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