English Competitions – An Interesting Blend of Talent & Weirdness

So it’s been a busy month or two, and that in part is due to this years CCTV Star of Outstanding English Competition. If you have ever lived here in China you will have surely come across this situation at least once or twice. English competitions here are very popular and come in a few different forms, from ones just for fun and much less professional, right through to the super professional televised ones.comp2

This particular one is the Wenzhou regional section of the National television companies English competition, so pretty big. I happen to have been lucky enough to be on the judging panel for the last three years. Apart from being really great money, its also pretty interesting and I thoroughly enjoy it.

The way it works is there’s a first round where contestants send in a video of them introducing themselves in English. At this point pretty much anyone who speaks any level of English is passed to the next round. From there on out it changes to live performances at a variety of different educational establishments, before ending in a finale at the Tv station. Each round will have a set topic, or maybe a few for the contestants to choose from. They then prepare a performance around this topic to perform on the day of the competition. Usually, after the contestants have performed (they are given one minute) they then are asked questions by the judges. Sometimes there are other things instead of questions, for example being given a few words to work into their performances.

A certain amount (usually the top ten in each age category) from the Wenzhou stage (Wenzhou and surrounding suburbs has approx 9.6 million residents!) Then go through to the Hangzhou City competition, and compete against people from all around the province, people that ace this then go through to a few competitions in Beijing. The Beijing winner is therefore, Chinas best!

So far unless you”re a real English enthusiast it sounds pretty boring, but where the real interest comes is from either the really incredibly good contestants, or the really terrible ones. But mainly the later. Usually, the funny stuff comes from the student’s bad pronunciation or complete miss use of words. This time round some good examples are:

  • I like English and I like Meth.
  • I like yellow bitches.
  • I like to look at the anals.
  • My dad has no hair and is fat.

Just reading it probably isn’t that funny, but when its coming from the mouth of a sweetly dressed child, sometimes in a novelty outfit. It kind of takes you by surprise! Add to this the ones that freeze up on stage and/or cry, Boys whose mum has put an awful amount of makeup on them, questionable outfits and sometimes bizarre talents or shows which take most of the time for speaking English, and hopefully you can kind of get an idea of how extremely interesting it is to be on the panel of judges.

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