College with Routes into Languages East
Year 7 pupils at a successful
mixed comprehensive school in Cambridgeshire were the first to
benefit from this project, which is now reaching 30,000 learners
The project encourages Year 7 students to
learn key vocabulary in another language and to practice and
improve their spelling and memory skills whilst having fun.
It also raises the profile of language learning within and
beyond the school through class, school and regional
Originally devised in Spanish for schools in
the Eastern region, the project has now been replicated across all
nine English regions and in Wales, and has included Spanish,
French, German and Welsh.
The Spelling Bee is run in three competitive
stages. The first stage is a class competition. Year 7
pupils learn fifty words from the Year 7 curriculum, which they
have to translate from English and spell correctly in the target
language. Words are presented in a random order, and pupils
are given one minute to spell correctly as many words as
possible. A further fifty words are added at the subsequent
whole school and regional stages. The top two students from
each class go forward to a whole school competition, and four
representatives from each school take part in the regional final,
at which the top four students in the region for each language, and
their schools, all receive trophies. Winners at each stage of
the competition are rewarded with certificates.
The competition is supported by
a teacher’s pack and a wiki.
All 300 Year 7 learners of Spanish at
Comberton Village College are involved in the class competition,
with the winners joining others from schools across the Eastern
region. Now in its second year, the project has involved over
30,000 pupils from all regions of England and
Our judges found that students enjoyed taking
part and felt that it helped them to learn to memorise. For
one girl it was the key that opened the door to good grades.
Older pupils felt that mentoring gave them leadership skills,
independence and the opportunity for creativity.
Project Coordinator Jane Driver said:
“We have been overwhelmed by the success of
the Bee. Designed as it is to fit easily into the curriculum
without adding to workload, it seems to have struck a chord with
busy teachers everywhere. It also transcends school
divisions, with Year 8 and 9 language leaders helping Year
College is a large, successful mixed comprehensive
school five miles from the centre of Cambridge. It covers the
age range 11-16, with a sixth form centre opening in September
2011. The school encourages all pupils at KS4 to continue
with languages through a variety of different courses.
More information: A
detailed write-up of the project with downloadable documentation is
available on http://www.rachelhawkes.com/