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Storytellers in national event

TWO students from a Shanghai international school have competed in a national Chinese storytelling competition, with Tiernan Murphy, 9, of Ireland, beating several native language speakers to finish in the top five.

Murphy and Eun Kyeong Jo, 12, from South Korea, received special prizes for their efforts in the All China StoryTelling Competition held in Yuhang, Hangzhou City of Zhejiang Province earlier in the month.

The students are both from Yew Chung International School Shanghai's Puxi campus and had to win through their school competition to get to the final.

Murphy told the story of "Little Red Riding Hood" in Chinese to a standing ovation from the crowd.

The national competition involves hundreds of students from around China.

The Shanghai students had to come through several heats before competing in Hangzhou, where they faced more than 300 other competitors.

Murphy has studied Mandarin for three years and his father Eoin Murphy said he is a fluent speaker who also knows about 400 to 500 characters.

"He has shown a good aptitude for the language and he helps us with things whenever we get stuck," said Eoin Murphy.

"We didn't see the point of coming to China and not teaching the boys how to speak Chinese so it is a focus for the family."

At the finals, the students were divided into two different age groups for the competition.

Tiernan managed to win through to the last 27 competitors and finished in the top five.

The competition was judged by a panel of 10 judges, with each competitor given a score out of 10 by each judge. The scores were then added to obtain a total out of 100.

Tiernan was the 11th competitor to speak and his score immediately put him in the first place. The competition finished with a winner selected from the top five. There were no second or third places awarded.

"To be honest we didn't know how big it was, we were just asked if Tiernan would go and compete in the final," his father said.

"It wasn't until we got there that we realized that it was such an extensive competition with competitors from all over China."

Tiernan said he practiced every night for two months to prepare for the competition.

"I read it (the story) a lot and practiced and practiced and practiced," Tiernan said.

"I like Chinese. It is so fun to learn because it is different. It is not just learning English, when you have it as a second language, it is harder but very interesting."

Tiernan said he hopes to continue his Chinese studies when his family eventually returns to Britain.


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