Last Language Standing competition encourages language use outside of classroom

Last Language Standing takes place from Nov. 7 to Nov. 11 in Draper 356. Grace Everett | Photo Editor

By Sarah Wang | Staff Writer

Hosted from Nov. 7 to Nov. 11, Last Language Standing (LLS) is a weeklong competition among different languages taught at Baylor. The event is located in front of the Interactive Media & Language Center (iMLC) on the third floor of Draper Academic Building.

According to the LLS website, LLS allows languages to battle to see which one is used the most.

A daily prompt encourages participants to display their thoughts using languages other than English, answering on Post-its that they place on the walls of the third floor of Draper. Audio submissions are also allowed, and a QR code is provided at the site for audio entries.

According to the iMLC website, there are three methods to win: most posted language, most posted overall and most posted of the day. The prize includes bragging rights for a year, a mention on the social network and a gift card.

Hajime Kumahata, director of the iMLC, said there are three categories for the daily prompt: easy, intermediate and difficult. The levels cater to students’ lingual efficiencies, and the questions are from real-life situations rather than standard classroom scenarios like “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?”

“These are ‘silly’ questions, and we never use that in classroom situations,” Kumahata said. “That makes [the participants] think how they can apply the grammar and vocabulary that they learned in the classroom into these situations.”

Kumahata said around 99% of responses are handwritten.

“In European language, it’s not so much about handwriting because those are just limited characters,” Kumahata said. “But think about Chinese, think about Japanese, think about Arabic. When they do handwriting, it’s an art and a completely different discipline.”

Kumahata said the competition has worked really well, pushing students to think about these questions.

“The competition really give opportunity to think outside of the brick walls of classroom,” Kumahata said.

“We’re not forcing them to do it,” Shelby Xu, Chinese language assistant at the iMLC, said. “It’s whoever wants to do it, comes up and does it. I asked one of my classes to come and to be exposed to these questions.”

So far, the languages that have appeared in the competition are French, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Arabic, Hindi and Igbo, according to Xu. Hindi and Igbo are not taught at Baylor.

“We don’t teach these languages [Hindi and Igbo], but those languages exist on Baylor,” Kumahata said. “But we want to recognize them, and we want them to be used on campus. That’s our goal.”

According to the LLS website, LLS has been virtual the past two years, using TikTok to allow each language to compete for the most views, likes and posts. This year, the Post-it format of LLS has prompted more personal involvement.

“I feel some people can be camera shy, so having the camera pointed at them would limit their capabilities of what they can do,” Xu said. “But rather, if you’re putting a Post-it note, you can simply write down your answers and respond to the questions.”

With Thanksgiving coming up, Kumahata said they have a weeklong prompt of “What are you thankful for?”

“I want students to reflect not only in that target language they’re studying but also in their own life,” Kumahata said. “What are they thankful for?”

Kumahata said he wants students who are taking foreign languages to find joy in learning them and to be able to use them to understand different cultures — even if they’re only taking them as a requirement for their degrees.

“Through understanding other cultures, you’re understanding the world,” Kumahata said.