By Atsushi Ebihara
OSAKA, June 14 (Xinhua) -- The winner of a preliminary contest for the "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students held recently in Osaka hoped to win the top prize at this year's final.
Yui Tanaka, now studying Chinese as a postgraduate student in Japan's Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, also stressed that compared with other foreign languages, learning Chinese is the best way for making friends abroad.
Tanaka won the 12th regional contest held by the Confucius Institute at Osaka Sangyo University last month. She competed against 30 or so other students from regions in western Japan.
This was the 24-year-old student's second chance to earn a ticket of match in China as a Japanese speaker.
Tanaka said it was when she was preparing for the university entrance examination in high school that she decided to study Chinese at the university.
"I want to make more friends in my life. That's why I choose Chinese," she added.
Tanaka said that language is the best tool to communicate globally with a lot of people and since Chinese is being spoken by more people in the world than any other language, so she decided to learn it.
Tanaka also noted that communicating with foreigners "the normal way" in English is no longer such an appealing way to meet people who are "special" or have a "unique" talent.
Concerning the challenges of studying Chinese, she admitted that learning the correct Chinese pronunciation has taken much of her time, adding that achieving a command of proper Chinese grammar must be a constant problem for Japanese speakers, even though they have long used Chinese characters in their own language.
But Tanaka said she has dramatically improved her Chinese after going to Beijing in 2009, where she spent a year learning the language at a university.
She learned more technical words and acquired the skill to correctly pronounced Chinese words with the proper "facial expression" that she learned from speaking with native Chinese speakers.
"Imitating someone else's speaking style many times in a foreign place is the fastest way to learn a new language, especially for a young person like me,"she said.
During her stay in Beijing, Tanaka also tried to learn more about Chinese culture, songs and dances. She regularly attended a course taught by a master of Beijing opera and learned to sing classical Chinese songs. In fact, she will have to sing during this year's contest, which consists of an oral presentation, random questions on Chinese culture, and a talent show.
Returning to Japan, she is continuing her comprehensive study of Chinese, her major at college.
Tanaka said her Chinese professor always encouraged her by saying, "I am just as responsible for your studies as I am for my child's."
"I simply cannot imagine learning Chinese without my professor, " she said. "Since the time I met her years ago at a classroom at my college, I've had a great dream to become a good Chinese teacher to teach more young Japanese students and to promote better communication and frank exchanges between our two countries. "
Before joining winners from other countries to compete in the "Chinese Bridge" semi-final and final to be held this summer in Changsha, Hunan Province, Tanaka continues to hone her speaking skills and cultural performance in a classroom in Kobe.