Normally, when you take part in a competition, by winning it you think you have gotten the most from it. But this is not true of the 21st Century English Speaking Competition.
The 22nd China Daily “21st Century Coco-Cola Cup” National English Speaking Competition and The 15th China Daily “21st Century New Oriental Cup” National High School and Primary School English Speaking Competition came to their conclusion on March 26 at Nanjing University.
To participate in one of the competitions, you are not just fighting for a championship, but also for an “entry ticket” to a wider range of opportunities.
According to 100yingcai (百年英才), many key universities are authorized to run their independent enrollment (自主招生) programs. About 30, including Beijing Normal University and Tongji University, recognize the winners at the 21st Century Cup competition when evaluating applicants.
If you are planning for a future career, the competition can also be of help if applying for a position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Taking the national civil service examination (公务员考试) used to be the only pathway. But starting from this year, the ministry provides two alternate ways of seeking out talented students. As announced at the competition’s award ceremony, if you are from one of the 16 high schools acknowledged by the ministry, you can apply for a training program in the China Foreign Affairs University. This means you will receive four years of dedicated and intense training. If you are from the 20 universities that the ministry mainly recruits from, you may have the chance to directly take part in the selecting program.
Throughout the past 21 years of the competition, a number of ex-contestants have even gone on to become journalists and interpreters at the ministry.
The competition this year also attracted the attention of seven prestigious (有声望的) schools in the UK, including Harrow School, Kilgraston School and Pangbourne College. They sent recruitment (招生) officials to select potential students right on the spot (当场).
But for those who believe that great English skills alone guarantee a fast-track to the best jobs, there is a lot more to it than that. The competition tests so much more than a student’s language ability.
According to Mu Zhouqing from the Department of Translation and Interpretation of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was also one of the judges of this year’s college competition, the first two most important things he valued in a contestant’s speech were whether they had an original and distinct perspective (看法) on the question topic and how wide their sphere (范围) of knowledge was. “English ability only comes third,” he said.