A Grove Academy pupil has been crowned the winner of a prestigious Mandarin speaking competition – despite only taking up the language last year.
Emily Crawford, a sixth year pupil at the Broughty Ferry school, saw off competition from across the UK to win the beginners’ category in the British Council Mandarin Speaking Competition 2021.
The contest, held annually since 2003, saw 200 secondary school students from 67 schools take part.
This year’s competition was held online due to the pandemic and the winners were announced during a special live celebration on May 18.
Emily said: “I wasn’t really sure about doing it at first because it’s quite a big thing and I had only just started learning the language.”
All competing students were required to give a two-minute presentation and answer two clarifying questions related to what they presented.
The judges assessed them on their communication, fluency, usage and pronunciation.
I wasn’t really sure about doing it at first because it’s quite a big thing.”
Emily explained: “Answering the questions was really difficult because it’s about hearing all the different tones.
“You are trying to decipher it all and being able to form a sentence at the same time.”
“That was the hardest part of it.”
Emily came first in her category, ahead of pupils from LVS Ascot, Hampton School and Norwich School – fee-paying schools costing an average of £6,200 per term.
And her achievement is all the more impressive considering she only began learning the language – remotely – in September.
“I honestly did not expect to get close to winning. It’s just so difficult and everyone else did so well,” Emily said.
“You are sitting watching everyone else and you are thinking, oh no!
“But hearing I won, I was obviously very proud and I was thankful for my teacher because she had helped the me whole time.”
The 18-year-old, who is set to study physics at Edinburgh University when she leaves Grove this month, now plans to continue with the language.
She added: “I hope I join a society or something at uni so I can keep it up because it would be a waste just to let it go after all this work.”
Students at Grove were given the opportunity to study Mandarin at National 4 level this year through an online course hosted by the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools.
Eight students took part in the course, led by a teacher based at the centre in Strathclyde University.
Grove Academy rector Graham Hutton was full of praise for the students who took part in the course and expressed his pride in Emily’s achievement.
He said: “It’s a fantastic achievement for the school, but mainly for Emily.
“Having only started Mandarin last year and now winning a national competition – and coming up against many prestigious private schools – we are really proud of her.”
It is hoped that next year there will be Mandarin teacher at Grove and the school wants to expand the relationship with those in China.
It’s a fantastic achievement for the school, but mainly for Emily.”
Grove Academy rector, Graham Hutton
Deputy head teacher, Andy Creamer said: “What we’ve seen is the growing confidence in pupils as they complete the Mandarin course and that’s been the most significant thing.
“We also have a partnership with two schools in China and we’ve already had pupils on our engineering programme collaborating with them and we are looking to expand that.”