Pupils competing in Russian

Local schools take part of National Languages Competition.


Semi-finalists Harry McElligott, nine, of St John’s Walham Green Primary School (left) and Tyrone Takilwa, ten, of Wendell Park Primary School
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Eight local schoolchildren tested out their skills in Russian when they competed in the regional semi-finals of a national languages competition.

The children, aged nine and ten, from four borough primary schools, were among 34 taking part in the London semi-finals of the EuroTalk Junior Language Challenge, hosted by the Kingwood City Learning Centre, in Fulham, on Friday (24 September).

The EuroTalk Junior Language Challenge, which attracted about 5,000 entries, was open to any child in Britain aged ten or under. The competition also aimed to raise £10,000, from the £2 per child entry fee, to provide interactive, audio-visual learning facilities for some of the world’s poorest women and children.

To reach the regional semi-finals, they had to master Italian using EuroTalk’s interactive language learning software. Hammersmith & Fulham got more children to the London semi-final than any other borough.

Thirty six children who scored the highest in Russian during the 12 regional semi-finals of the computer language learning challenge last week (three from each regional semi-final, including the London one) will now go through to the national final at the Language Show at Olympia on 5 November – when they will compete in Zulu for the chance to win a trip to South Africa.

The eight Hammersmith & Fulham children who took part in the London semi-final at the Kingwood CLC were all among the top 25 per cent scorers in Russian nationally but none made it to the national final.

The four borough schools whose pupils took part in the event on Friday were Wendell Park Primary, Fulham Primary, St John’s Walham Green Primary and John Betts Primary. They are among six local primary schools involved in a national language pathfinders project to ensure seven to 11-year-olds get the chance to learn a foreign language.

Hammersmith & Fulham was one of 19 areas of England chosen by the government last year to take part in the project, which began running in six local primary schools this term. The aims are to introduce language learning for seven to 11-year-olds, so pupils progress further when they get to secondary school; pilot innovative teaching in European and community languages and share good practice, experienced staff, resources and equipment.

Yvonne Burke, primary advisory teacher from the council’s education department, said: “The language pathfinder is about partnership, encouraging schools to work with each other on projects such as this and promote modern foreign languages and community languages in the primary curriculum.”

Cllr David Williams, deputy for education, said: “By taking part in the EuroTalk competition and the language pathfinders project, we are helping our schools to broaden the outlook of children and better equip them for living and working in a modern, global society.
Many of our schools have made great strides in introducing younger children to modern foreign languages, building on our strengths as a multicultural and multilingual borough. Our pupils bring a range of experiences and language skills from the A to Z of the world.”

October 10, 2004