School District 43 is hosting the B.C. finals for the Chinese Bridge public speaking contest Sunday at Gleneagle secondary.
Some 89 students from across the province, including those attending local schools, will be competing for a variety of prizes as well as a chance to participate in world championships in China.
This is a first for Coquitlam's Confucius Classroom, a Mandarin language program run locally by SD43's International Education program but sponsored by the People's Republic of China.
Students from kindergarten to Grade 12 who have learned their Mandarin from Confucius programs or in school programs will be participating.
Among the contestants will be students from SD43's Mandarin bilingual program at Walton elementary school, said Patricia Gartland, director of instruction for International Education.
"It's attracting a lot of attention to our community," said Gartland , noting that the Chinese vice-consul general Li Wenci and education consul Xue Yafei will be among the dignitaries attending the public speaking contest.
Judges will be professors of Asian Studies from UBC, SFU, the University of Victoria and University College of the Fraser Valley.
Students will be speaking on the topic of "Mandarin Chinese: My Story" and they have been divided into groups by their age and whether they are heritage or non-heritage speakers.
None of the students speak Mandarin as a first language, although it is a heritage language for some, she said, noting that the goal of the contest is to promote multiculturalism.
Students taking part in the competition will be judged on pronunciation, intonation, grammar, vocabulary, content and style of delivery.
"This is a demonstration of their learning," Gartland said.