Journalism Competition Winner

Journalism Competition Winner

On Monday February 12th, JJ Wilson delivered a presentation on his best-selling course book Speakout to an audience of almost 500 people in the main congress hall of the Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics.

A teacher, poet, award-winning author and writer-in-residence at Western New Mexico University, JJ has conducted teacher training events in more than 30 different countries but had only done one seminar of this size for students before.  Along with those who packed the hall, hundreds more watched a recording on YouTube.  In other words, this wasn’t any ordinary Monday afternoon…


If you’ve already seen JJ’s presentation, I’m sure you remember his advice on the best ways to learn a language and had a lot of fun watching the BBC video materials that are in every single unit of Speakout.  As JJ joked, “We have two ears and only one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak.”  If you missed the event, you can still spend an entertaining and productive hour listening to JJ on Dinternal Education’s YouTube channel.  You can also read about what other students thought of the afternoon thanks to the dozens of entries we had for our student journalism competition from all over Ukraine. 


The task we set was to watch JJ’s presentation and write a news report of no more than 250 words.  Everything had to be in English and the students were reminded that the audience would need to know the who, what, when, where and why of the event.  Two professional journalists from Britain, Andy Hudson and Laurie Hanna, very kindly agreed to spend time reading all the reports, picking one winner and giving some general feedback on the entries they received.


Andy and Laurie really liked the entries that set the scene for the reader, including background information on both Speakout and  JJ Wilson to highlight who he is and why your audience should be interested in him.  Lots of you had clearly researched Speakout, the reasons for the event and also JJ’s personal life and career. The judges noticed that you used a variety of different sources in your research such as JJ’s website, your own opinions and a recent poll of students at the Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics.  Some of you also provided links to the recording of JJ’s presentation or listed his top ten tips for learning English. 


The very best pieces of writing kept the audience in mind at all times, opening with a strong introduction that concisely explained the who, what, why and when to the reader. These entries then built on the introduction with direct quotes to make the report more vivid and engaging for people who hadn’t seen the presentation itself. You gave your own impressions of JJ and the other presenters and highlighted some of the more memorable moments, such as JJ asking for advice on where he should visit in Kyiv.  The strongest entries were rounded off with conclusions that mixed factual information with some of the writer’s own opinion on the speakers, the event or the best ways to learn English. 


A huge thanks to all of the students who entered (and the teachers who inspired them to take part).  We hope you all found the task useful practice for your future careers as well as an excellent way of improving both your listening and writing skills in English.  Whether you won or not, you can all now write on your CVs that you:


Participated in a national student journalist competition jointly organised by Pearson and Dinternal Education, writing an English-language news article which was evaluated by two UK-based journalists.  


Here’s what our judges thought of the entries overall:

Although the entrants varied in ability, they were all descriptive about the event, and were entertaining to read and compare. 

They contained a nice combination of colour and detail - including direct quotes that brought their story-telling to life.

Each entrant should be applauded for having the determination to write in English, and I'd like to wish them all good luck in developing their abilities further.

Laurie Hanna, media manager at Amnesty International UK and former news editor of the New Day newspaper. 

Generally, the writing and English displayed was of a good standard.  Even the shortest entries managed to convey the main facts and a number of students were able to impressively weave together some fine examples of writing using a mix of opinion and facts to really grab the attention of their readers.  It was clear that all the writers understood the topic and point of the event.  I really enjoyed reading the entries so thank you to everyone who took part. 

Andy Hudson, communications consultant and freelance writer for the Daily Mirror, the Daily Mail, STV (Scottish Television) and the South Shields Gazette.

Andy and Laurie spent a lot of time deliberating about the very best entry, narrowing down the field to a final four of Yulianna Khodakovska, Anna Demshevska, Sarvinoz Pulatova and Yaroslava Rychik.  In the end, the winner was….

Yaroslava Rychik from the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy.

“A great use of descriptive writing!  Yaroslava really gets across the feel of being there in person, despite the fact she missed out on seeing it live.  She shares her opinion and own personal experience with the reader and wrote a really interesting story which included information on all the main events of the afternoon.”

As well as seeing your work published online, Yaroslava, we’ll also be in touch to present you with a copy of Speakout together with MyEnglishLab, so you can improve your English whenever you want and wherever you go.  Congratulations!

However, we liked the other entries so much that we wanted to share a few excerpts with you:

“We need to think a little differently and make knowledge acquisition more attractive.  Who knows, it could be possible that studying would then become the most fascinating and pleasing occupation in the world?  Thank you JJ Wilson for providing such an attractive alternative to our traditional textbooks.”  Sarvinoz Pulatova, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. 

“It was not a boring talk about the future of education or a humdrum lecture about the importance of English in our life, but it was a really friendly and warm meeting.  Every person in the audience felt comfortable and important…He (JJ Wilson) writes his textbooks in a really proper and structured way.  That’s why students can see real improvements in their speech and grammar.” Karyna Davydian, National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy.

“Finally we have got the answer on how to learn English! JJ Wilson gave us a clear goal to study and develop.  Imagine you could travel around around the world sitting in your own classroom.  It gives us motivation to be open-minded, to feel the real English language and other cultures around the world. Authentic materials give us a real context.  That’s the Speakout approach.”  Yelyzaveta Churkina, National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy. 

The winning entry:

On 12th February, the majority of Ukrainian students, including me, lost their opportunity to start a new era of their own English. The famous teacher and author J. J. Wilson visited Kyiv, and we missed it.

Fortunately, YouTube and the ability of people to shoot videos saved all of us from linguistic suicide, so I took my notebook, a bucket of popcorn and started watching the speech online. The lecture started with some congratulations and a short introduction of new educational technologies, presented by Michael Hudson, a methodologist from Dinternal Education. Then a young, cheerful and smiling man took centre stage at the Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics - as I found out later, this was J. J. Wilson. The audience, ready for just another usual English class, was surprised. Yes,  for the hour of his workshop the lecturer told us about the structure and efficiency of his English textbook Speakout, showed three different movies, interviewed students about Kyiv, shared his own travelling experiences and laughed at a joke about Troyeschina.

Except for this informative block, J.J Wilson gave 10 tips to improve our English. The most unexpected was the last one - to find a native speaker girlfriend/boyfriend. And as a person who runs creative writing courses in almost 60 countries,  he definitely knows what he’s talking about.

After watching the video, I closed my notebook and decided to start with three things: read Wilson’s novel Damnificados, search for more information about Speakout and find a native speaker boyfriend.