Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 25th september 2020
One by-product of the prevalence of staycations this summer, for me at least, was the unusual experience of spending a summer only really hearing the English language. Sitting on a beach in St Ives, I did hear the odd international tourist, but the majority of the vista and soundscape was of the British bucket-and-spade holiday, complete with windbreakers, burning skin and sandy sandwiches. As pleasant as this may have been, there is something about escaping somewhere that a different language can be heard. The differing levels of understanding of that language can bring different benefits. A few Easters ago I found it liberating being in Tokyo and not being able to understand a thing – until, that is, I couldn’t buy lunch very easily. Having studied A-Level German long enough ago to have forgotten most of it, but with enough lingering vocabulary to get by, it can be enjoyable being part – but not quite fully – of another linguistic culture if I find myself in Germany or Austria. Regular readers of these newsletters will know that I am attempting Italian Duolingo, initially to pass the time in lockdown, but also to be able to navigate my favourite country a little more easily when I can get back there.
Madame Phillips reminded us of all these benefits this Thursday, celebrating the European Day of Languages in assembly. We are lucky here to have such a multilingual community, bringing us the benefits of different cultures and backgrounds. For such a small school there is an astonishing array of languages spoken, and an enthusiastic willingness to listen and learn from others. This has been demonstrated over the past few years with the success of our Language Ambassadors scheme, again led by Madame Phillips, which sees many of our older boys developing their PSB skills while preparing to teach different languages to younger pupils in local schools. They even get to enjoy a dry-run with our own pre-prep boys!