Windlesham are off to the Foreign Languages Spelling Bee National Finals at Cambridge University in July.

Cindy, Jane and Audrey won the school heats for the spelling bee and have been practising – mainly in their own time – for the Southeast regional final of the spelling bee which took place on 2 May at the University of Southampton.

Let’s be clear about this achievement: it is learning 200 words in French, including gender. The caller says the word in English and the finalist repeats it back in French – accurately – at speed – and using the French alphabet … including accents!  The finalists have 60 seconds to translate and spell as many as they can.

We gathered in a lecture room and were told that the finalists were the elite linguists of their age in the southeast as more than 3000 children have taken part. So the competition began. (These word counts are Mrs Selves own and don’t necessarily match exactly those of the judges, but it’s a good approximation.)

In the first round, Audrey was up first and somehow managed to translate 20 words, not passing on any and getting them all

correct; Cindy followed with a fantastic 17 words and Jane with a very strong 16 words and one understandable pass on the phrase ‘I don’t understand!

It was nail biting stuff and at the end of the first round we learned that Jane had tied with two others and had to repeat the round. No places were announced and there was a pause for a tense cup of tea and a muffin.

In the grand final, the top four in French, Spanish & German were invited to return for a further 60 seconds and to be placed. Jane missed out in a place in the finals by the narrowest of margins to Boy A – but what a fantastic achievement from her nonetheless. Third place was awarded to Girl B. Second place was announced – and it was our Cindy – rapturous applause from everyone … and with baited breath, we waited, could it possibly be a WHS 1st and 2nd … had we done it. YES WE DID. Audrey smashed it.

A fantastic job. So exciting. So proud of all three girls. Well done.

Mrs Selves

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