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Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

Students Get a Buzz from Languages

East of England

108 pupils reached the national final of the Routes into Languages Spelling Bee final at Anglia Ruskin University at the beginning of July.


They certainly knew their  ‘bof’ (so-so) from their ‘très bien’ (very good) their  ‘spitzer’ (pencil sharpener) from their ‘schildkröte’ (tortoise ) and their ‘sacapuntas’ from their pájaro’ (bird).


The national final, held at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge on Friday, 4 July, saw the Year 7 pupils from all over the country compete to correctly spell the most number of words in French, Spanish or German in just 60 seconds.


The competition, sponsored by the European Commission and Vocab Express, has seen a total of 61,493 youngsters take part from 496 schools across the country.  Having first won through class, school and regional heats, the finalists have each been given 200 words to memorise in their chosen language.


The competition is the brainchild of Cambridge teacher Jane Driver and has been extended across England, Wales and Scotland by Routes into Languages.


Routes into Languages East, based at Anglia Ruskin University, runs the national competition and organises the final.  Sarah Schechter of Anglia Ruskin, who is the Project Manager, said: “We’re amazed at how the Spelling Bee continues to grow year on year.


It gives Year 7 pupils the opportunity to really improve their language skills, while also having a lot of fun in the process.


Studies have shown that being able to speak a foreign language has many other benefits, including improving memory, multitasking and decision-making.  Therefore the skills these youngsters have shown in reaching the final should prove useful in other subjects as well.”


Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Routes into Languages programme, said: “The Spelling Bee really catches the imagination of young people.  They discover they can work magic with words and get to grips with a foreign language.  We all get a buzz from the competition!”


John Evans, Language Officer at the European Commission, said: “The enthusiasm generated by the Foreign Language Spelling Bee, combined with the solid foundation in language skills that it provides, will stand the pupils in good stead for taking languages further in the future.” 


Prizes were presented by the Deputy Mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Robert Dryden, John Evans of the European Commission, Justin Sycamore of Vocab Express and Pat Dalby of Alliance Française, Cambridge.  There was also a special video message from Spelling Bee Patron Larry Lamb. who was unable to end the final this year.


Also present was Professor Richard Andrews, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, who said: “I was delighted and astonished at the brilliance of all the competitors, and am glad to see spelling receive such sustained attention in modern foreign languages.  I look forward to next year’s competition.”

For photos on the day from professional photographer, Phil Mynott, and from participants using the events app, FOMO, click here


For a short film by Anglia Ruskin University student fliming company, Brother Bear, click here 

And the winners were:

Following a wonderful final on Friday, with amazing performances from all the 105 Year 7s,

the results are as follows:



1st    Daniel Vlasits, Comberton Village College            E

2nd    NO PHOTO PERMISSION                                 E

3rd    Zahra Akber, Holy Trinity Catholic School            WM

4th    Andriana Chacholiades, Highlands School            LON



1st    Hannah Wookey, Beverley High School               Y&H

2nd   Rhys Wallis, The Howard of Effingham                SE

3rd   NO PHOTO PERMISSION                                   NE

4th   Alex Dent, Royal Grammar School Newcastle       NE



1st   Anika Goddard, Sir Jonathan North Community College        E

2nd  Alex Gao, Bolton School Boys' Division                             NW

3rd   Sneha Rammohan, Altrincham Grammar School for Girls    NW

4th   Matthew Cavalière, Bolton School Boys' Division                NW