Local schools get a buzz from Foreign Language Spelling Bee

Published: 11 April 2011 at 12:42

Almost 5,000 pupils from across region compete for a place in the national finals

Twelve talented young students have won a place in a national final after demonstrating their language skills at the Routes into Languages East Foreign Languages Spelling Bee.

The competition has captured the imagination of over 40 schools across the East of England, with around 4,800 Year 7 pupils battling it out to spell the highest number of words in French, German or Spanish.

Nearly 100 local winners – who had won class and school rounds of the competition - have just taken part in the regional final, at Comberton Village College near Cambridge. The pupils had to learn 150 words for the regional final and they then had one minute to translate and correctly spell a random list of words in their chosen language.

Project Manager Sarah Schechter, from Anglia Ruskin University, said:

“The competition has given the pupils the opportunity to learn the vocabulary that they need to know in order to improve their language competence.

“The wonderful aspect of the project is that it attracts and motivates a broad cross-section of pupils, not necessarily just the gifted and talented ones. Learning foreign language vocabulary can be pretty tough, but the competition element captures the imagination of the pupils.”

The winners of this year’s regional competition were - German: 1st Jack Wells, Thomas Lord Audley School, Colchester, Essex; 2nd Anny Bush, Thomas Lord Audley School, Essex; 3rd Stanley Stefanowski, Chafford Hundred School, Thurrock, Essex; 4th Michael Barrenger, Colne Community School, Essex.

French: 1st Helen Grant, Linton Village College, Cambridgeshire; 2nd Sophie Kennedy, Yavneh College, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire; 3rd Leanne Harris, Yavneh College, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire; 4th Olivia Haste, Linton Village College, Cambridgeshire.

Spanish: 1st Fizza Arshad, Southend High School for Girls, Essex; 2nd Ewan Jenkins, Comberton Village College, Cambridgeshire; 3rd Edward Shelley, Comberton Village College, Cambridgeshire; 4th, Steven Veizi, Gateway Academy, Tilbury, Essex.

They all received shields and certificates, with the winners being presented with a cup for their school and a foreign language dictionary donated by Oxford University Press. The national final, which will take place in Cambridge in July, will see the 12 regional winners competing against pupils from across the country.

The Spelling Bee was devised by Jane Driver, a teacher in the Language Department at Comberton Village College. The competition ran successfully as a Routes East regional programme last year and has now been rolled out as a national initiative.

Jane said:

“Having seen the difference the spelling bee has made to our pupils’ confidence and language competence, we’re really excited that it’s now gone national!”

Dr Tony Morgan, Director of Routes East added:

“Pupils of this age love to learn and compete. This project is making great waves and giving students and teachers lots of fun.”

Jonathan Scheele, Head of the European Commission’s Representation in the UK said of the scheme:

“With an estimated 11 per cent of small and medium sized businesses losing contracts due to a lack of language skills, it’s important that we equip today’s children – tomorrow’s workforce – with the best possible skills to secure interesting and challenging jobs.

“We fully support this fun and innovative way of encouraging young school children to learn foreign languages.”