Word Wizard Competition: Motivating young people in their language learning

SCILT Gaelic beginners
Left to right - Chloe Kelt (2nd), Eilidh MacDonald (1st) and Hannah MacDonald (3rd) in Gaelic Beginners

Issued by Scotland’s National Centre for Languages 

The language skills of six Highland pupils were recognised at a national competition held in Edinburgh at the end of May. Eilidh MacDonald, Chloe Kelt, Hannah MacDonald, Lucy Munro and Rachel Urquhart from Milburn Academy and Jennifer Baker from Kingussie High School won awards in the national final of Word Wizard, a multilingual spelling competition. Eilidh, Chloe and Hannah came first, second and third respectively in the beginner’s Gaelic category whilst Lucy and Rachel can first and second in intermediate Gaelic. Jennifer came third in beginner’s Chinese.

Gaelic intermediate

Gaelic intermediate winner Lucy Munro (left) and Rachel Urquhart (2nd place)

S1-S3 pupils from across Scotland took part in the national final of Word Wizard, a competition for pupils learning French, Gaelic, German, Chinese and Spanish. Forty-six learners from eight local authorities and independent schools competed in the final in front of an audience of teachers, supporters and guests. The event was organised by SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages in partnership with the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland. 187 pupils from 22 local authorities and independent schools competed in semi-finals in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee in March 2016 to battle it out for a place at the prestigious final. The final was held on 24 May 2016 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

Mandarin beginner

3rd place Mandarin beginner is Jennifer Baker - Kingussie High School (right)

Each year pupils and teachers report that the competition increases motivation, enhances language performance and improves attitudes to learning and self-evaluation. SCILT is delighted to provide pupils with this opportunity, and to give them the chance to meet other young language learners at the National Final.

A teacher entering pupils into the final commented: ‘Word Wizard helped raise the profile of modern languages within the school. Pupils increased their vocabulary and improved their pronunciation’.

A pupil competing in the final said: ‘It is a good experience which I feel has further developed my language learning’.

Another competing pupil said: ‘I really enjoyed the competition and it has helped me gain confidence’.

Fhiona Fisher, Director of SCILT added: ‘It’s wonderful to see so many young people taking part in the Word Wizard competition representing an increasingly 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. By offering 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 competition promotes literacy skills amongst pupils and helps schools develop partnership working with universities.

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/WordWizard2016Final/tabid/5726/Default.aspx.

ENDS

14 Jun 2016
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