Talented young Yarm School linguist Siddharth Murali has scooped third place in a national contest by spelling as many German words as possible in 60 seconds.
Twelve-year-old Siddharth saw off competition from more than 74,000 pupils across the country to scoop a bronze trophy in the Foreign Language Spelling Bee.
Pupils from 590 schools across the country took part in this year’s competition and Siddharth won through class, school and regional heats to reach the national final of the German category.
Cheered on by his family and Yarm School Head of German Tom Fellows, Siddarth, who is from Ingleby Barwick, was pitted against 40 pupils who also made it through to the final German round at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.
Siddharth said: “I didn’t go in there with any expectations so I was surprised when I heard them call my name in third place. I did have to spell two really tricky words, Skating, which is Schlittschuhlaufen in German and Science, which is Naturwissenschaften. But I still managed 20 or 21 spellings in a minute.”
Pupils had to memorise 200 words in their chosen language and the winners were those who correctly translated and spelled the most words in the allotted time.
The competition is run for First Year pupils, who compete in French, German or Spanish, to improve vocabulary, spelling and memory skills.
Siddharth’s mum Manju said: “We’re incredibly proud of him. To think that he’s come third out of all of the people who entered at the very beginning of the process is amazing.”
Yarm Headmaster David Dunn said: “Languages are a very important part of life at Yarm School. We start early with French lessons from the age of three and in senior school pupils study French, German and Latin in First Year with an option to study Spanish in Third Year.
“We’d all like to say congratulations, to Siddharth and hope our new First Years can enjoy similar success in next year’s competition.“
Prizes were presented by the Deputy Mayor of Cambridge, Councillor Jeremy Benstead, Paul Kaye of the European Commission, and Justin Sycamore of Vocab Express.
Sarah Schechter, Project Manager of Routes into Languages East, based at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “We were so impressed by all the finalists, especially the winners – and very excited by the fact that having worked so hard and had so much fun this year, all the competitors now go into their next year at school with the strong vocabulary and valuable transferable skills that the competition has given them.”
The competition was the brainchild of Cambridge teacher Jane Driver and has been extended across England and Wales by Routes into Languages, a programme which features a consortium of universities working with schools and colleges to encourage pupils to study languages.