Sunday, April 10, 2011

First Speech in Nihongo

At the company that I am currently employed at, we have this so-called "chourei" (朝礼), or morning assembly, every morning before work begins. During the chourei, the 100 or so employees of the company gather in a single office room and a different person everyday has to lead the assembly by giving a speech and reading from the company's management guide book.

The speech can be about any topic under the sun, as long as it does not offend or insult anybody or their beliefs.

The person who has to speak is determined by the section they belong to and then by rank or date of arrival to the company. For my case, I was the newest addition to our section so that puts me last in line for the chourei - for our section, at least. But since I belong to the first section, I was the first of the four of us newest Filipino additions to deliver a speech.

So, yeah, delivering a speech should have been no big deal for me. I mean, I've delivered many speeches before, some even impromptu, but I guess nothing would just prepare me enough for a speech that has to be delivered in Nihongo.

Anyway, first let us rewind to a month before my turn. I knew that my day was drawing near so I was fumbling around for a topic to talk about. It was difficult, and I was at a loss of ideas. It wasn't until my roommate suggested talking about a TV program that I watched recently that I was able to think, "Yeah, I could do that!" So, I started to write about it.

Writing the speech alone took me around two weeks and it was just 3 paragraphs, each composed of more or less 5 sentences. Even more so, I could only use really low-level, but at least polite, Japanese. I had our Nihongo sensei check my speech for me twice to make sure I didn't say anything insulting or that my speech was understandable and polite, at the very least. Although my topic was far from debatable - it was about how men and women look at their shoes when they step on a gum - it was still best to consult with a Japanese for the tone and overall impression of the speech.

So I mentioned that my topic was about "how men and women look at their shoes when they step on a gum" - sounds pretty stupid, right? I guess at first glance it would seem stupid but I did explain the reason behind that - and the reason has its roots in the Theory of Evolution. 

And before my turn to speak, I have been observing everyone at the chourei. I didn't write a speech just for the sake of it - I had objectives and those objectives were born from my observations during the chourei. The first thing that I observed was that whenever someone speaks, everyone just stares ahead without looking at the speaker. I wanted to deviate from that and deliver a speech that would make them look at me. The topic of my speech helped a lot to achieve that because it required me to demonstrate the actions in front. In other words, I wrote an "action-packed" speech. So when I delivered it, they were "forced" to look at me to see what I was doing.

My second objective was to make a good impression for my first speech and set the bar high for my fellow Filipino employees. I could consider it as the first, though rather small, step to "promoting" and uplifting the image of Filipinos in other countries. As for setting the bar high, in terms of grammar and vocabulary know-how, my speech would be graded "low" because it was very simple Japanese. But the bar I was trying to set is the impression that we give them when we deliver our speech. I wanted to exude confidence (but not overconfidence), and enthusiasm, so that even if it was just a speech, not actual work, I could give them the impression that I am serious about being here and that I give my best even just for a speech.

But really, I also just wanted to deliver something fun and interesting that would somehow lift the somewhat sullen atmosphere that hovers above our heads every chourei.

In the end, I could say that I safely reached my objectives, and I gained more than what I expected. The most surprising thing was that I was able to make them laugh during my delivery and it made me feel really elated. After the chourei, I was able to receive commendations from many different people, including the department heads (部長), section heads (課長), and even from co-employees that I have never even talked to before, and that made me proud of myself. Somehow.


  1. Nice keu xa Kate... hope we have this so-called Chourei in my workplace too...

  2. hahahaha nice au xa..hehehehe

  3. pd pakitranslate? hahaha