Lower Sixth Modern Languages Festival

On Monday 29th June the Modern Languages Department presented this year’s Lower Sixth Festival online, coinciding with the traditional evening in the Language Centre courtyard to celebrate the end of another year of language learning in the Lower Sixth.

Seven languages were represented in the entries, with some 40 languages pupils writing, preparing and performing an impressive array of pieces, including sketches, songs, dance, poetry, film voiceover and a television gameshow. The combination of creativity and technological ingenuity would have been challenging enough in English – to create the performances in their foreign languages was doubly admirable.

The evening started with the Chinese set performing an energetic TikTok video “Shen Ren Zu” followed by a recitation of the ancient Chinese war poem Song of the wagons. This was followed by the first Spanish entry, a presentation on the making and the history of Gazpacho, arguably the iconic Spanish taste of summer.

The German set took over, providing voiceovers for some of the most famous lines in film history, from Casablanca with “Ich seh dir in die Augen, Kleines” to Forrest Gump “Das Leben ist wie eine Schachtel Pralinen”. The second Spanish entry was an imaginary conversation (in Spanish) between Boris Johnson (Poppy Bell (IH)) and Donald Trump (Ella Beardmore-Gray (IH)), showing well-tuned references to issues such as COVID-19 and Brexit.

The next performer was Dorothy Johnstone (NC) reciting the beautiful Japanese poem Sakura (Cherry Blossom), followed by the Russianists, Poppy Bell (IH), Jonte Catton (C2), Tati Metcalfe (EL) and Lara Staples (NC), with their own Zoom lesson, showing how technology has presented just as many challenges this term as the most difficult Russian vocabulary test. After that the six Lower Sixth Arabic pupils combined in a recording of their own song We love animals, complete with realistic animal noises.

The evening continued with the third Spanish entry, MasterChef with Señor McClintock, in which Patrick McClintock (SU) attempted to instruct Fleur Smailes (DA) and Amber Phillips (DA) in the art of cooking a Spanish tortilla, with the girls’ families providing the ultimate judgement on their culinary skills. Finally the two French sets combined in Dispute Famille!, a reworking of the gameshow Family Feud!, in which the sets became two rival families, the Cyranos and the Bergeracs, answering questions in French on Marlborough life in an attempt to win the title.

At the end of 35 minutes of entertaining cut and thrust of spoken language, the eminent jury congratulated all on the high standard of their spoken language and technological ingenuity, and, on the criteria of language, diction and overall performance, awarded 3rd place to the Spanish Boris y Donald sketch, 2nd place to the Russian Zoom lesson, and 1st place to MasterChef with Señor McClintock. Many congratulations to these performers – and many congratulations to all who made this year’s online Festival such a success!

Andrew Brown
Head of Modern Languages

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