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Sources: Kumiko Nakamura, 785-532-1921,;
and Xavier Gavin,
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-6415,

Friday, March 26, 2010


MANHATTAN -- A video game has helped a Kansas State University student place highly in a prestigious Japanese language speech contest.

Xavier Gavin, freshman in arts and sciences-open option, Wichita, placed second in the category for students with less than a year of college Japanese instruction at the 24th annual Japanese Language Speech Contest, March 6, at the Consulate General of Japan, Chicago, Ill.

Gavin's speech was "Bring in Guitar Hero!" In his presentation, Gavin discussed the use of high technology in the classroom and shared his idea to introduce video games like "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" to promote music education.

"I am very proud of Xavier's accomplishment and glad that his hard work was rewarded well," said Kumiko Nakamura, director of K-State's Japanese language program. "Xavier started his study of the Japanese language at K-State in August 2009 with no previous learning experience in the language."

Japanese is considered one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn and takes considerably longer to master, Nakamura said.

"Xavier's success and recognition as the second-place winner sent us all an encouraging message that starting to learn a foreign language at college is not too late," she said.

"It was my pleasure to represent Kansas State University in the Japanese speech contest," Gavin said. "In order for me to be invited to Chicago, both professor Nakamura and I had to put in much time and energy into the creation of this speech."

Gavin said one moment he will remember from the competition is what the chair of the judges said about why she thought it was important for students to learn foreign languages.

"She said how it opens doors to both career paths and relationships, and also understanding," he said. "She said it was unfortunate that universities everywhere were closing their language programs because of financial stress. I would like to express my most eternal thanks to the K-State College of Arts and Sciences and the department of modern languages for making education and experience a standard for their students."

It's the fourth year in a row that a K-State student has placed at the competition, including a first-place finish in 2009.