Gift of the gab

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2012, 12:00am


Debating and persuasive speaking are important parts of students' education as they learn to present themselves and communicate with others.

One Hong Kong teenager, Lucien Wang, a Year 11 student at King George V School excels in the art of communication. He was crowned the world champion for interpretive reading last month at the 2012 World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship.

Lucien, who also finished ninth overall, was part of a team of students at the annual international English-language debating and public-speaking competition, which was held in Brisbane, Australia.

His teammate Esther Mak, of St Paul's Co-educational College, who was a grand finalist for persuasive speaking, finished 12th overall. Her schoolmate Ryan Tang was 13th overall. Brian Wong, of Island School, was 15th overall; Justin Lee, of Sha Tin College, was 22nd; Claudia Tam, of West Island School, was 28th; Eunice Leung, of Maryknoll Convent School, was 37th; and Sarah Ku, of Heep Yunn School, was 48th. All the students are members of Hong Kong Schools' Debating Council.

Scores of students from countries including Australia, Canada, the United States, Britain, South Africa, Israel, India, South Korea, and Germany took part.

All participants competed in four speaking disciplines: debate, impromptu speaking, persuasive or after-dinner speaking and interpretive reading.

'The whole team was holding hands as we awaited the results,' Lucien says. 'When I was announced as an individual winner, it was a shock for us all. It was not only a happy moment to win, but also a great bonding experience with my teammates.'

Lucien impressed the judging panel with his emotional and powerful performance of the Room 101 section from George Orwell's classic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. 'I chose this theme because I am interested in politics. Nineteen Eighty-Four is very good in terms of political ideology,' Lucien says.

'I think my change of pace and tones, as I imitated the dialogue of different characters, won me the competition. I did the voice of leading characters Winston and O'Brien and also the narrator. I think the audience was able to distinguish easily which character I was doing as I spoke,' he says.

Roy Allen, the coach of the Hong Kong team, agrees that Lucien did a great job with his change in tone and pace. 'He managed to match Richard Burton [the actor who played O'Brien in the 1984 movie version of the novel] for power and creepiness,' he says.

'It was done in a large lecture theatre and he did very well to project the voice and create a sense of fear. He got better each time he did it.'

Success in public speaking is nothing new for Lucien, who was crowned champion of the senior section at last year's Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups Standard Chartered Hong Kong English Public Speaking Contest. 'I am on the schools debating team and love debating and public speaking because they help my logical thinking and my confidence ... Hopefully, I will be able to compete again next year.'

For more details of the competition, go to: