2020 J.LIVE Applicant FAQs

Question Categories

About J.LIVE Talk

About Eligibility

High School Division

College Division

About Application

About the Preliminary (Video) Round

About Video Upload

About Semifinal Round Schedule

About Final Round Schedule

About the Final Round


About J.LIVE Talk

What makes J.LIVE Talk unique compared to other Japanese speech contests?
Unlike a traditional speech contest, J.LIVE Talk expects contestants to engage in lively, dynamic, and engaging presentations using speaking skills in a style similar to TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Talks.

Why will J.LIVE Talk 2020 be held via Zoom?

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the J.LIVE Talk Committee decided to host this year’s competition online. We will use Zoom and it will be livestreamed on YouTube. This past spring, many of the applicants have probably experienced online classes and meetings due to nationwide school closures. In this environment, online interactions have become as important as in-person interactions. We are looking for successful communicators who can engage with and even entertain audiences everywhere on earth!

About Eligibility

High School Division

How do I find out if I am qualified to apply?
Please read the Eligibility criteria. You need to find a teacher who can evaluate your Japanese language proficiency as well as mentor you, once you are chosen as a Final Round contestant. For high school applicants, a signature by your parent or guardian is required. If you have any further questions, please email the J.LIVE Talk Committee at [email protected].

One of my parents is Japanese, but I studied Japanese in high school. Am I qualified?
Possibly. However, one of the eligibility requirements is that Japanese not be a contestant’s dominant language (i.e. the language with which a bilingual or multilingual speaker possesses greatest proficiency and/or uses most often). If Japanese is your dominant language, unfortunately, you are disqualified. If it’s not, please carefully read all the eligibility requirements under the Eligibility section of the website. You are qualified as long as you meet those eligibility requirements.

I'm not taking any Japanese class now, but one of my parents is Japanese and I can speak pretty well. Am I eligible to apply?
In order to be qualified, you must find a teacher who recommends you to the J.LIVE Talk 2020, and who will mentor you once you are chosen as a finalist. The teacher also has to be a member of the American Association of Teachers of Japanese or its affiliates, and must evaluate your Japanese speaking proficiency based on the “ACTFL oral proficiency guidelines 2012”.  In addition to those requirements, Japanese should not be the language with which you have greatest proficiency and/or use most often. Please carefully read all the eligibility requirements under the Eligibility section of the website. You are qualified as long as you meet those eligibility requirements.

My high school is very small and doesn't offer any Japanese classes. But I study by myself and I am an active member of the Japan Club in my school. Can I apply?
Can you find a Japanese teacher who can evaluate your proficiency level, is a member of the American Association of Teachers of Japanese or its affiliates and also can be your mentor once you are chosen as a finalist? If you have one, please carefully read all the eligibility requirements in the Eligibility section of the website. If you meet all the requirements,  you are qualified to apply. 

I’m a native speaker of English. My Japanese teacher thinks that my Japanese proficiency is Intermediate-High. However, my teacher is not a member of AATJ or its affiliates. Can I apply?
We request that all teachers who serve as recommenders of contestants be members of AATJ or one of its local affiliates.  Becoming a member of your region’s Japanese teachers’ association is easy, and it helps support Japanese teaching and learning in the US. (See https://www.aatj.org/membership).

College Division

How do I find out if I am qualified to apply?
Please read the Eligibility criteria. You need to find a teacher who can evaluate your Japanese language proficiency as well as mentor you, once you are chosen as a Final Round contestant. If you have any further questions, please email the J.LIVE Talk Committee at [email protected].

One of my parents is Japanese, but I studied Japanese in college. Am I qualified?
You are qualified as long as (1) you are enrolled in a JFL (Japanese as a foreign language) class as of November 14, 2020, (2) your transcript proves that you took at least 6 credits of college level courses in JFL or the equivalent (please see the Eligibility criteria), AND (3) you can, if asked, submit documentation to verify that you did not attend a full-time, secondary-level (grades 7-12) Japanese educational institution accredited by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, for 4 or more years (such as transcripts from a middle and/or high school). 

I'm not sure whether I have earned the minimum six college-level Japanese language credits. Should I ask my teacher?
Yes, please do so. Our eligibility of a minimum of six college credits is calculated based on a semester system. You should have had at least 84 contact hours or more. If your teacher is not sure about how to calculate your credits, please have him/her contact us at [email protected].

Which category should I apply for?
Please talk to your Japanese teacher to determine your current proficiency level according to ACTFL Oral Proficiency Guidelines. He/She will make the designation for you. Subsequently, based on your YouTube video submission, the J.LIVE Talk selection committee may reassign you to a different category.

I took an AP Japanese class in high school. Does this count as a college-level JFL (Japanese as a foreign language) class?
It depends. If your university has officially accepted your AP credits, they will show on your transcript, and you can count them toward satisfying the requirement for this contest. Therefore, please check your transcript at your institution.

I have taken all the Japanese language classes available in my college. Therefore, I will not be registered in any Japanese class as of the date of the Final Round. Am I ineligible to apply?
It depends. Please ask your teacher to contact the J.LIVE Talk Committee at [email protected] to explain your situation. The Executive Committee will determine your eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

I won’t be taking any Japanese classes this coming fall due to my personal situation. How can I decide whether I’m eligible to apply or not?
Please ask your teacher to contact the J.LIVE Talk Committee at [email protected] to explain your situation. The Executive Committee will determine your eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

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About Application

How can I apply?
As the Schedule section explains, the application/nomination period runs up to October 8, 2020. Please talk with your Japanese teacher as soon as possible and inform her/him of your interest in applying for J.LIVE Talk. Your teacher must complete Section III of the application (Endorsement) for you to be a contestant.

How should I choose a Japanese teacher who can recommend me? Is any Japanese teacher okay?
Look for a teacher who is willing to 'coach' you through the Final Round. You may want to ask your teacher to critique your written script and make suggestions for you to improve your presentation style. He/She does not have to be your current Japanese teacher.

Do I need more than one Japanese teacher to recommend me?
No. You need only one teacher who can both recommend you AND coach you for the Final Round.

The Japanese teacher whom I want to recommend me does not teach at my university (he/she is at my previous university). However, I really want to apply for J.LIVE Talk. What should I do?
We recommend you discuss your interest with a Japanese teacher at your current school first. The time commitment will likely be significant, so it is best to ask the teacher with whom you are on closest terms.

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About the Preliminary (Video) Round

Can I ask my Japanese teacher or Japanese friend to check the grammar of my script for the Preliminary Round?
No. It is crucial that your video displays your true proficiency level. If you receive editing help, you may be placed higher than your actual level regardless of the level indicated on your application form, and you may end up having to compete at a higher level.

I plan to use a dictionary to write a script on my own so it may contain some words which are considered above my proficiency level. Will this be a problem?
Heavy usage of a dictionary or online translator may inflate your proficiency level and require you to compete against more advanced speakers. Please keep in mind that if you make it to the Final Round, there will be an unscripted Q&A section where you will be expected to converse at the level appropriate to your category level.

What should I talk about in my video?
Please read the Video Guidelines under the Preliminary Round section.

Is it okay to edit the video?
Continuous video is preferred and recommended. However, minimal editing is allowed. For example, if you start coughing in the middle of the video, you can delete that part. Keep in mind that J.LIVE Talk is a Japanese language competition, not a video production contest. Excessive editing may obscure your true proficiency level. Please do not add production elements such as music and credits.

Do I need to add subtitles to the video?
No, subtitles are unnecessary.

Should I send a script file as well?
No, only the video is required.

If the quality of my video is poor, will I be disqualified?
No. But if the speaking is not audible, we may ask you to reshoot it.

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About Video Upload

How do I upload the video to YouTube?

Please go to the Video Upload Instructions on the 2020 Preliminary Round Application.

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About Semifinal Round Schedule

When can I find out whether I can proceed to the Semifinal Round?

All contestants who proceed to the Semifinal Round will be contacted by email by October 12, 2020 at the latest.

Are there new materials required for the Semifinal Round?

Yes. By October 15, semifinalists in both high school and college divisions must submit the Semifinal Round Application Form (the link to be emailed with the preliminary round result notification) including a 1 minute video describing what they plan to present should they be selected as finalists. See the Schedule.


About Final Round Schedule

When will I find out whether I’ve been chosen for the Final Round?

All contestants who proceed to the Final Round will be contacted by email by October 19, 2020 at the latest. See the Schedule.

Do I have to attend the Final Round if I’m chosen?

When you are selected to proceed to the semifinal round, you will be asked if you intend to participate in the Final Round should you be selected. Please respond to the J.LIVE Talk Committee by October 15, 2020.

Do I need to submit my presentation script for the Final Round beforehand? 

Yes, please submit a short abstract in English (150 words) and presentation material (a PowerPoint or equivalent) to accompany your talks via the finalists’ google form link (to be provided) by November 6, 2020. In the Final Round, each contestant will share his/her presentation material in ZOOM. The J.LIVE Talk Committee, however, would like to verify the content of the material in advance. The abstract will not be published but will be given to one of the judges in advance.

What is the tentative schedule for the day of the Final Round, November 14, 2020?

The Final Round is scheduled to begin at 5pm on November 14, 2020. Before the Final Round, a detailed schedule will be posted online.

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About the Final Round

What equipment do I need for the Final Round?

You will need to access Zoom on your computer and be able to share presentation material (such as PowerPoint). Please see “Contestants’ Zoom Guidelines” to be provided to the finalists. We also recommend you wear a headset with a microphone to block any outside noise and carry your voice clearly. If you need assistance in procuring a headset, please contact us at [email protected] as soon as you are selected as one of the finalists.

How can you conduct a dress rehearsal for all the Final Round contestants online?

We will do a dry run before the Final Round on Zoom. In the past, the J.LIVE Talk Committee compiled all the contestants’ PowerPoint files beforehand, and put them on the screen on the Final Round venue. This year, each contestant will use his/her computer at home and will share his/her presentation material on Zoom. 

In what order will the Final Round contestants present?

Presentation order for each category will be determined by a randomizer before the Final Round.

How long should the PowerPoint presentation be for the final presentation?

The length of the presentation for the High School Division may be up to 3 minutes.  For the College Division Category I, it may be up to 5 minutes, and for Category II, up to 6 minutes. Please make sure you will complete your presentation within the limit, so that you will not be penalized for going overtime.

How many questions will the judges ask in the Q&A round?

Judges will ask two questions for the High School contestants, and three questions for College contestants. A total of up to six minutes is allotted for each contestant’s Q&A. This does not include the time it takes for the judges to ask the questions.

Will the judging criteria be made public before the contest?

Please visit the website for the Final Round Guidelines.

Should I stand or should I sit when I present on Zoom?

Since you will only appear on a small screen during your presentation, we do not recommend you stand up and move around.

Can I use background on Zoom?

If it enhances your presentation in a relevant manner, you may choose to use a background. Please note that once you start your screen share, the speaker view will be minimized and the audience will not be able to see it well. All background images must be approved by J.LIVE Talk at the time of the dry run, both in terms of the content and the image quality.

At the Final Round, will I know how many points I received for my presentation and Q&A by the judges?

No. Awardees for the prizes in each category will be announced in the Award Ceremony. However, no points will be made public.

I understand that I have to give the presentation to the audience in an entertaining fashion. Are there any scores from the audience?

No. You will only get scores from the judges.

Are there Q&A by the audience, and will my answers be evaluated?

This year, the audience will view the competition via livestream on YouTube. Therefore, their questions will be posted as comments and the MC will communicate the questions to you. The audience questions will be asked as the judges tally their scores. While the Q&A by the audience is not directly part of evaluation, it may be taken into account during the final deliberation.

Do I need to memorize everything I say for the presentation?

Reading a script of your presentation should be avoided and will significantly impact your score. Also your presentation needs to finish within three minutes for the High School Division, five minutes for College I, and six minutes for College II. If your presentation goes over the time limit, it will negatively affect your score. We recommend you memorize your script and time yourself in practice.

Should I send you my presentation material beforehand?

Yes, please send your presentation material (e.g., PowerPoint) by November 6, 2020 to [email protected]. In the Final Round, each contestant shares his/her presentation material in ZOOM. The J.LIVE Talk Committee, however, would like to verify the content of the presentation material.

Should I include any data?

It is recommended that College I and II contestants include supporting information and data in his/her presentation. For the High School Division contestants, this is not necessary; however, if you decide to include any, please make sure you can finish within three minutes.

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Can I share the ZOOM link with my friends and family?

No. Nobody but the contestants, judges, and staff members will be allowed on Zoom. However, the Final Round will be livestreamed on YouTube in J.LIVE Talk 2020. You can share the YouTube URL with your family and friends. The URL will be available by the end of October.

When will I be notified if I am chosen to proceed to the Final Round?

Contestants to the Final Round will be notified by J.LIVE Talk Selection Committee on October 19 2020.

What is the presentation topic for the Final Round?

For the Final Round, you may give a talk on any topic of your choice. (It does not necessarily have to be about Japan, or learning Japanese.) For the High School Division, your talk should be based on your personal experiences and have a clear message to the audience. For College I and II, your talk should also have a clear message and be based on your personal experiences; however, in addition, you should also include more diverse types of information such as findings by researchers, statistical data, and competing claims in order to support your message. For more information, please see the Final Round Guidelines.

What should I wear for the competition?

All participants are expected to dress in a professional manner. Business suits are not necessary, but casual wear such as t-shirts and jeans should be avoided.