Importance of Learning About Other Cultures and Languages

Learning languages is important for communication and as the best way to celebrate diversity and to broaden our horizons, according to Glenalmond's Head of Modern Languages, Dr Caroline Murie. 

Caroline Murie

At a time when we are all confined to our own houses, the ability to communicate efficiently with the rest of the world has never been more important.

Languages open doors, and never has the need for doors to be opened been greater. Here at Glenalmond, language learning is at the heart of pupils’ education and this term our pupils have had the opportunity, alongside their regular language work, to participate in a variety of different linguistic activities to showcase how important it is for them to have some understanding of other languages and cultures.

Careers Week was an opportunity for our pupils to conduct and participate in job interviews in a foreign language and to research just how many jobs become accessible if you speak a foreign language. 

Our 4F French class and our L6 French and Spanish classes also took part in the ISMLA creative writing competition, where they were given the opportunity to combine their literary skills with their linguistic skills.

#ExpressYourselfInLockdown

A great number of our pupils also created videos to participate in the #ExpressYourselfInLockdown competition organised by the British Council - we will announce the winners next week but we are incredibly proud of all our entries, and particularly of Freyha K (L6) and Freya F (3F) whose entries were commended by the British Council.

The creativity of our pupils was incredible, and they performed poems, songs, plays and even a rap in French and Spanish. All these activities highlighted to them that you don’t need to be fluent to express yourself creatively and to have fun in a foreign language.

UK Linguistic Olympiads

But perhaps the most surprising activity for our pupils was the opportunity to take part in the UK Linguistic Olympiads. This competition requires them to put their linguistic minds to the test and to use their reasoning and deductive skills to solve problems in other languages which are completely unfamiliar to them, such as Ogham (the earliest form of writing in Ireland) or Kabyle, a language spoken by five million people in northern Algeria.

Spotting patterns in language is crucial to improving fluency, and these activities allowed our pupils to realise that they understand language and linguistic patterns much more instinctively than they ever realised! The results and certificates were published this week by UKLO, and out of a national field of 2277 participants, 18 of our pupils have achieved a certificate.

They have been awarded as follows:

Bronze: Octave H (4F), Freyha K (L6), Lara K (4F), Imogen L (4F), Olivia M (3F), Nadia S (3F), Lucia SR (4F), Iona B (L6)

Silver: Honor R (L6), Ben E (3F), Daisy H (4F), Scarlett M (L6), James SF (4F), Jamie W (4F)

Gold: Kirsty H (3F), Carmen M (3F), Anthony S (4F)

These are incredible results which I am extremely proud of, particularly as the circumstances in which these activities were done were much more challenging than in previous years. They are a testament to our pupils’ linguistic abilities and commitment to improving their language skills.

Languages are vital in our society as they allow us not only to communicate with others but to understand other ways of thinking and other cultures. Our diversity as a school community is something we cherish and learning languages is the best way to celebrate this diversity and to broaden our horizons. 

So keep learning languages!