German students win national language competition

Group of 6 students in a language lab

Six of our German students have won a national competition hosted by Business Language Champions.

Emma A, Hugo G, Jeremey K, Akshaya R, Evie T and Jessica Y were selected to compete in the virtual German language challenge which introduced them to the work of Government Communications Headquarters, commonly known as GCHQ.

Though they were the only German team in the competition, the students - all in Year 10 - carried out the same tasks as the other teams which comprised a series of challenges set to test their linguistic and analytical skills.

After solving four tasks as a group, the competition culminated with a presentation in the target language. Judges awarded students marks for preparation, clarity and confidence, pronunciation, effort and overall impression. Marks were also awarded for correct information on the answer sheet, creativity where required and language and accuracy in Task 4.

"The GCHQ competition was a great experience for us," said Akshaya.

"We all had to focus on our team work, translation, and listening skills in not only German but other languages as well. This widened our knowledge on languages that aren't typically taught in schools such as Arabic and Korean. The competition was a challenge but a great push for us in terms of working online with other schools and having to work with new terms due to Covid-19. However, the win in the end made it all worth it!"

Jessica added: "It was highly rewarding and exhilarating to watch a mystery (the identity of the drug trafficker and the details about his shipment, meeting and route) unravel. The situations and circumstances seemed very plausible, and the challenging, time-pressured tasks gave us a taste of the demanding but exciting career of a GCHQ linguist. Teamwork was crucial, and helped us become much more effective in tackling each problem, and working together to solve these tasks was very enjoyable"

The talented linguists are the first team to represent the RGS in this competition and were pitted against nine other teams from across the UK.

Speaking about winning the challenge, German teacher, Mrs Towns, said: "The Year 10 German teachers are very proud of the team.

"There were some tricky tasks to solve under time pressure, but the students worked incredibly well as a team with each student contributing well to the tasks that played to their linguistic strengths and decoding skills.

"They were commended by GCHQ staff on their ‘reverse cypher and good language used’ both in spoken as well as written German. They came first in tasks 1, 2 and 3 with tasks 1 and 3 pretty much perfect."      

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