Word Wizard Competition: Motivating young people in their language learning

Issued by SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages 

Millburn Academy pupils Elissa Hunter-Dorans, William Urquhart, Isla Jones, Isla Ramsay, Chloe Kelt and Eilidh MacDonald won awards for their language skills at the final of a national competition held in Edinburgh at the end of May.


Award winning Gaelic learners William, Elissa & Isla

S1-S3 pupils from across Scotland took part in the national final of Word Wizard, a multilingual spelling competition for pupils learning French, Gaelic, German, Mandarin and Spanish. Forty-nine learners from nine local authorities and independent schools competed in the final in front of an audience of teachers, supporters and guests. Elissa, William and Isla Jones came first, second and third respectively in the Gaelic Beginner category. Isla Ramsay, Chloe and Eilidh came first, second and third respectively in Gaelic Intermediate.

Each year pupils and teachers report that the competition increases motivation, enhances language performance and improves attitudes to language learning. The final was held on 12 May 2017 at the Scottish Parliament.

The competition is organised by SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages based at University of Strathclyde, in partnership with the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland. In March 2017, 170 pupils from 20 local authorities and independent schools competed in semi-finals in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee to battle it out for a place at the prestigious final.

A teacher entering pupils into the final commented: “Practice for the competition has allowed pupils to increase their confidence and has allowed pupils to be competitive with each other in a different way.”

A pupil competing in the final said: “I liked learning new words; it gave me a head start in class.”

Another competing pupil said: “I enjoyed performing in front of the crowd, but most of all watching and listening to the other languages, which was inspiring.”

Fhiona Fisher, Director of SCILT added: “It’s wonderful to see so many young people taking part in the Word Wizard competition representing a wide range of local authorities. Having an understanding of another language can really transform a person’s life and encourages the development of a whole range of important skills. Through such events, SCILT aims to offer teachers really motivating ways of enhancing the curriculum so that Scottish young people can reap the benefits of learning languages.”

Word Wizard supports the Scottish Government initiative, “Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 approach” by offering a diversity of languages as recommended by the report.

The targets laid out in the Scottish Attainment Challenge are about achieving equity in educational outcomes, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. One of the key drivers is improved literacy. The competition promotes literacy skills amongst pupils and helps schools develop partnership working with universities.

Word Wizard is supported by the European Commission and the final was sponsored by Colin Beattie, MSP.


Intermediate prize winners Chloe, Isla & Eildih

Full details of the winners and further information on the competition can be found on the SCILT website: http://www.scilt.org.uk/S1S3/Celebratinglanguages/WordWizard/WordWizard2017Final/tabid/6305/Default.aspx.


12 Jun 2017
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