Language and Culture Enrichment Week

11th March 2024

Language and Culture Enrichment week at St Margaret’s gives pupils the chance to fully immerse themselves in the rich cultures of the world and truly test their ability to analyse all the “glorious and seemingly messy” patterns to be found in modern and ancient languages.

The American linguist, Arica Okrent, said: “The job of the linguist, like that of the biologist or the botanist, is not to tell us how nature should behave, or what its creations should look like, but to describe those creations in all their messy glory and try to figure out what they can teach us about life, the world, and, especially in the case of linguistics, the workings of the human mind.”

Kicking off the week, Year 9 laced up their dancing shoes and took part in a lively salsa workshop teaching them how to give and take direction in Spanish, filling the main hall with the sound of clapping and happy feet.

Year 7 and 8 enjoyed a talk from Caroline Lawrence, an English American author best known for The Roman Mysteries series of historical novels. Lawrence took the pupils on a journey through Ancient Rome, describing the real life histories of the people and places that so greatly influenced her books.

Completely immersing themselves in classic drama, Year 10 and 12 explored the epic tales of Oedipus and Antigone, throwing themselves headfirst into a workshop provided by the Actors of Dionysus on Greek theatre and its lasting influences.

Finally, to round off their learning, pupils from Year 7 to 9 took on the challenge of the House Linguistics Olympiad, solving short, but mind-bending tasks to really gauge an understanding of how languages work. Tapping into their ability to pay attention to the details, collaborate with others and to be resilient when mistakes occurred, pupils faced an array of complex tasks from spotting patterns between romance and Germanic languages, and working out Scandinavian number systems, to translating and writing sentences in Yolmo (a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by about 10,000 people living in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal), as well as uncovering a ghostly message in morse code.

And the winners? St John’s smashed it, and are already gearing up to take on the challenge all again next year!

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