Greensburg student embraces Japanese and makes her mark
By Bob Stiles
Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
As a sixth-grader, Courtney Cole of Greensburg got interested in Japanese and wanted to learn the language.
Greensburg Salem School District does not offer Japanese as a course, so Cole began teaching herself.
“I bought books here and there, and I would watch the (television) shows and listen to the music,” she said.
In March, Cole's interest paid off. The sophomore placed second in the 2013 Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania Speech Competition held at the University of Pittsburgh.
She competed against 27 other Southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia students in the beginner's division, which typically requires a contestant to have a minimum of two years of classroom instruction to compete.
“I was pretty nervous,” said Cole, 16. “I had to go up in front of two judges, and I didn't know them at all. I had to do my speech right then, and it was pretty nerve-wracking, but I got through it.”
In her “self-introduction” speech, which she had to memorize, Cole focused on her family, her hobbies, her favorite subjects in school and her daily routine.
In Japanese, judges questioned Cole about her speech, and she responded only in Japanese.
The Japanese people also helped her learn their language. While in eighth grade as part of a language-exchange program, Cole began using Skype to meet people from Japan on the Internet.
“They would teach me Japanese, and I would teach them English,” said Cole, who has a 4.0 grade point average.
She learned more about the language through composing lyrics as part of Vocaloid — software that allows the user to synthesize singing by typing in lyrics and melody.
“I wanted to write songs in Japanese, so that's what inspired me to want to learn Japanese,” Cole said.
She said she finds the language “calming.”
“I love the culture, and the people are very friendly,” Cole added.
Learning to write Japanese is the most difficult part about the language, she said.
“You have to learn all the characters,” she said, explaining there are more than 10,000 different symbols.
Speaking Japanese is easier, she said.
“I wouldn't say I'm fluent, but I think I can converse well in Japanese,” Cole said.
She plans on becoming involved in medicine, possibly studying diseases, and believes knowing Japanese will be helpful.
“I knows there's a lot of research going on in Japan,” Cole said.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hempfield grad designs Fashion Week collection
- Site offers help in finding Greensburg apartments, student housing
- Greensburg Central Catholic grad takes novel approach to Machiavelli
- Seton Hill sweethearts hold annual Valentine’s dance
- Owners plan student housing for former Royer’s