English Language Progression Through Media

2009-10-27 16:45 BJT

Phillip McMinn

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

I have been teaching English as a foreign language for nearly ten years in China. Whether asking questions or judging, it is a tough job, as the level of contestants is consistently high and keeps improving year after year. This, I believe, is representative of the continuing improvement of language teaching methods and the keenness and realization by the students of the importance of English in the global community.

Being involved in the “CCTV Cup” is an immensely enjoyable experience though. That is certainly a thing that greatly attracts me to be involved year after year. I am always so impressed with the performance of the contestants—not just at the level of English language displayed—but at the confidence of speaking before a large audience and the effectiveness of the speeches. It is a challenge to speak well in front of a large group of people, but to achieve success at this in a foreign language is an admirable accomplishment indeed.

It is clear to see why this contest has become the most prestigious English speaking contest in China. It is exciting to be a part of something that—for anyone achieving any level of success in the competition—can bring great rewards for their future academic life or career.

One of the special things for me about the competition is the general feeling of excitement that prevails during the whole proceedings. The students are really having a unique and special occasion, coming from a multitude of areas and universities all around China to Beijing with their coaches, and trying so hard to shine above their competitors. At the same time, though, there is a feeling of camaraderie and friendship between them. At the end of the semi-finals this year, one young man stood on stage to invite everybody to a party in the evening. This sums up the special magic that happens every year.

I can feel a great “buzz” while I am working. Everyone sees the judges and question masters sitting formally and doing their job in a professional manner—and we do of course take our work very seriously. We realize what a huge amount of preparation and work the students have put in to get to the semi-finals and finals and that there are potentially high stakes at risk in winning or not. But the judges and question masters cannot help but be enthused and excited when we see the determination and commitment of the students. When we retire behind the scenes to discuss the performances we have quite heated discussions about how the contestants have spoken, the content of what they have said, who was funny, who was powerful, who had great pronunciation, who seemed nervous, who was original and how questions were answered, etc. I think that one of the most difficult things for us is that we want everyone to succeed due to the thorough and hard work that everyone has done. But of course, not everyone can win! I take heart in feeling that even though there can only be one final winner; all the students have succeeded with their accomplishments.