The competition, organised by the English-Speaking Union, aims to celebrate and encourage the power of the English language.
Rebecca, a student at the British international School Phuket, recently competed in the Thailand Public Speaking Competition 2017, beating 10 other finalists from across the nation to land a spot at the international finals in London.
She says reaching this point has been a whirlwind affair, having never thought of public speaking before entering the competition this year.
“When I first found out about this competition, I wasn’t sure whether or not to enter, as I had never done public speaking before and I felt very nervous just thinking about it.
But, with the help of my coach Ms Burley and attending a pre-competition workshop, I have not only overcome my fear but I have found that I really love public speaking,” she said.
Rebecca’s five-minute prepared speech on the set topic that “To define is to limit” saw her selected as one of the top three finalists.
She then went on to present an impromptu speech on the topic “Freedom of speech is a double- edged sword” to clinch first place.
In this three-minute speech, given after only 15 minutes notice of the topic, Rebecca spoke about how the internet and social media have given a positive platform for everyday people to share their ideas and views, but has also given rise to negative aspects such as cyberbullying.
The judges, swayed by Rebecca’s eloquence and coherence of thought, named her winner and she will now be competing with national winners from more than 50 countries in London with heats on May 11 and the grand finals on May 12.
English teacher and Debate Society organiser Leica Burley, who was Rebecca’s coach for the competition, said judges praised Rebecca’s performance and that her win was all the more impressive considering the fierce competition.
“The judges were very impressed with Rebecca’s maturity, her perceptive way of interpreting the topics and the clarity with which she could express her ideas.
“The competition was open to 16- to 20-year-olds. At only 16, Rebecca was amongst the youngest competitors and was up against students from some of Thailand’s top universities.
“Rebecca’s success is proof that students should not be afraid to try new things. I encourage students from all schools to take up opportunities that are presented to them with a positive attitude and a willingness to put in hard work,” she said.
Before heading to London, Rebecca will attend one final workshop in Bangkok with representatives of the British Council to help refine her skills and receive constructive feedback on her speech content and presentation manner.
“I am so excited for everything that the week in London has to offer – competing, meeting new people, the chance to discuss world issues and also the chance to explore London.
"During the five-day program we will do lots of exciting things like workshops on public speaking and debating, tour Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and see the musical ‘Wicked’,” she said.