A RIPON Grammar School student has won a prestigious University of Oxford language skills prize.

Anastasia Bell won the runner-up prize in the 2021 Oxford German Olympiad for the advanced linguistic skills she demonstrated in her description of a mythical creature.

The 14-year-old, from Thirsk, was awarded her certificate and prize at a virtual University of Oxford ceremony, where judges revealed they were very impressed by her entry.

Anastasia was delighted to be selected, having fought off stiff competition from 178 entries in her age group from schools all over the UK in the annual competition for learners of German.

Designed to challenge students of all levels to get creative with their German language skills and expand their knowledge of the culture, history and literature of German-speaking countries, this year’s theme was the Alps.

Year 9 student Anastasia  explained how she took on the task of drawing, then describing in German, her version of a mythical alpine creature during lockdown as a break from online learning: “I entered because it looked like fun, something to do outside school which would support my learning,” she said.

“The idea came from stories I read online about the German ‘Wolpertinger’, a funny looking creature. I had a vague picture of it in my head and knew it would be made up of parts from various animals. I pictured it as quite majestic.”

Her love of languages has been inspired by her fascination with the way different people experience life, she explained: “Through learning languages, you also develop an understanding of the culture of the other country.”

Along with German and French, she studies Latin and Ancient Greek as extra-curricular activities: “They both support me in my understanding of modern languages as well as giving me a unique skill that I use in other subjects.”

RGS German teacher Mrs Stoker said she was very pleased and proud of Anastasia and hopes her success will encourage more students to take part in future years: “Anastasia is a very talented Germanist, hard-working, very creative and extremely well deserving of her prize along with the recognition by the Oxford German Network and Oxford University.”

Anastasia, who received a book voucher, plans to study ancient history, philosophy or politics at university.

*The Oxford German Network is an initiative by the German department of the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford, dedicated to productive cross-cultural cooperation