St John’s on-the-Hill pupil Ewan Shakeshaft exceeded all expectations at the 2018 National Junior Language Challenge Final, in London, on Friday 9 November.

At the final, children competed in Kinyarwanda, the official language of Rwanda. After three rounds Ewan was in third position in his heat but after three more very tricky rounds he missed out on competing in the very final heat.

This year’s Junior Language Challenge began in February and was open to pupils in Years 1 to 5. The first round of the competition is always in a European language and 21 St John’s pupils learnt Spanish to take part.

Two St John’s pupils, Ewan (Year 6) and Millie Taylor (Year 5), made it through to the regional semi-final, held in Bristol. The language chosen for the semi-final was Khmer, the official language of Cambodia. They worked incredibly hard to learn the language and performed well amidst strong competition from pupils across the region.

Only three pupils from the South West went through to the national final – Millie only just missed out, coming fourth.

St John’s Head of Modern Foreign Languages, Mrs Aurelié Crathorn, said: “The standard of the entrants was exceptionally high this year and all our pupils who took part can be proud of their achievements. All the participants did very well but Ewan and Millie really stood out. Ewan did exceptionally well to get to the final for the second year in a row. It shows commitment, resilience and a passion to be the best you can.”

The Junior Language Challenge, run by language learning company uTalk, aims to introduce children to new languages while raising money for the charity onebillion, which works to educate children in developing countries. The competition has raised nearly £14,000 so far for the charity.