Tag Archives: Competitions

Stephen Spender Prize 2024

Calling MFL, EAL and English teachers! Bring creative translation into the classroom this summer with the Stephen Spender Prize 2024

The Stephen Spender Prize is an annual competition for poetry in translation, with strands for pupils, teachers and individual young people, as well as a special rotating Spotlight highlighting a language widely spoken in the UK. The competition is open for entries from 1 May to 31 July and is free to enter for all schools and teachers in the UK and Ireland.

Whether you’re an MLF, EAL or English teacher, and whatever the languages taught and spoken in your school community, the prize is a perfect way to engage students of all ages this summer term.

Teachers are invited to register here to receive classroom inspiration and activity ideas throughout the prize window, and you can follow all the latest news on our website and social media channels. (X: @StephenSpender| Facebook: @StephenSpenderTrust | Instagram: @stephenspendertrust)

Here’s a list of the categories for 2024:

Ready to start planning and working on your entries? Head to our Guide for Teachers for all the key information about the prize at a glance, explore our Bank of Suggested Poems for poem inspiration, and find poetry workshops, worksheets, lesson plans and more in our Prize Resources hub.

To help you spread the word ahead of the launch, you can also download a free Stephen Spender Prize 2024 poster to display around your school, sixth form or university buildings.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at prize@stephen-spender.org. We hope that many of you and your students will get involved!

Flash Fiction Competitions reminder!

With just two weeks to go until the deadline, there’s still a chance to enter our Flash Fiction Competitions in French and/or Spanish – don’t miss out on your chance to win £100! A reminder of the competition details and how you can enter can be found below…

Credit: Aaron Burden via Unsplash

What is Flash Fiction?

We’re looking for a complete story, written in French or Spanish, using no more than 100 words.

Did you know that the shortest story in Spanish is only seven words long?

Cuando despertó, el dinosaurio todavía estaba allí.
(When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there.)

– Augusto Monterroso Bonilla (1921-2003)

What are the judges looking for?

Our judging panel of academics will be looking for imagination and narrative flair, as well as linguistic ability and accuracy. Your use of French or Spanish will be considered in the context of your age and year group: in other words, we will not expect younger pupils to compete against older pupils linguistically. For inspiration, you can read last year’s winning entries for French here, and for Spanish here.

What do I win?

The judges will award a top prize of £100, as well as prizes of £25 to a maximum of two runners up, in each age category. Certificates will also be awarded to pupils who have been highly commended by our judges. Results as well as the winning, runner up, and highly commended stories will be published on this blog, if entrants give us permission to do so.

How do I enter?

You can submit your story via our online forms at the links below.

FrenchSpanish
Years 7-9Years 7-9
Years 10-11Years 10-11
Years 12-13Years 12-13

Click on the links to be taken to the correct submission form for your age/year group.

You may only submit one story per language but you are welcome to submit one story in French AND one story in Spanish if you learn or study both languages. Your submission should be uploaded as a Word document or PDF.

The deadline for submissions is 12 noon on Wednesday 27th March 2024.

Due to GDPR, teachers cannot enter on their students’ behalf: students must submit their entries themselves.

Please note that the competition has changed slightly this year. We are now only accepting entries from UK secondary school pupils.

If you have any questions, please check our FAQs here. If these still don’t answer your question(s), please email us at schools.liaison@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk.

Bonne chance à tous! ¡Buena suerte a todos!

Big Think Competition

St Edmund Hall at the University of Oxford is running its annual Big Think Competition!

Every year, The Big Think invites students across the UK to tackle one of our academics’ ‘big’ questions. These questions have been specially designed to challenge you beyond your normal school curriculum – helping you explore the latest breakthroughs in your subject and what it might be like to study it at university. Entering can also help boost your personal statement for university applications.

The competition opened on Friday 1 March. To enter, simply record a video of 5 minutes or less presenting your arguments and opinions. No need for fancy equipment or to show your face if you don’t want – feel free to get creative!

Winners will receive:

  • £100 (First Prize)
  • £50 (Second Prize)
  • £35 (Subject Commendations)

Winners will also all be invited to Oxford for the day where they will get to discuss their entries with subject tutors, tour round with current students and enjoy lunch in our dining hall.

Big Think: Modern Languages

The ‘Big Think’ question for Modern Languages this year is:

Is there such a thing as an untranslatable word?

This question has been set by Dr Holly Langstaff, tutor in Modern Languages at St Edmund Hall. Holly researches and teaches French literature from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. She also runs several outreach initiatives, such as the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, the Think Like a Linguist project and Bristol Translates Summer School.

The competition will close Wednesday 1 May. To view the full list of questions and enter, visit seh.ac/bigthink. Good luck!

German Olympiad – round 2!

Great news: Round 2 of the Oxford German Olympiad 2024 is now open for entries! The Olympiad is an annual competition run by the Oxford German Network for learners and speakers of German from ages 9 to 18.

The theme of this year’s Olympiad is Kafkaesque Kreatures, taking inspiration from the animal stories by Franz Kafka (1883-1924), who gave the German and English languages the word kafkaesk / Kafkaesque to describe a weird, disturbing experience. 

Image taken from the Oxford German Network website.

There are three Round 2 tasks to choose from this year, with exciting cash prizes for the winners of each task:

  • Oxford German Network Task
  • The White Rose Prize: Einen Brief schreiben
  • Camden House Book Proposal

Winners and runners-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, in June 2024.

Further details about the tasks and the competition in general can be found here. The deadline for all entries is 7 March 2024 at 12 noon.

Please note:

  • students may enter only one of the three Round 2 tasks
  • there are age restrictions for each task
  • Round 1 and Round 2 of the Olympiad are separate competitions. Students may enter both, but do not need to have entered Round 1 in order to enter Round 2.

There’s also still time to enter Round 1! Find details here.

FRENCH AND SPANISH FLASH FICTION COMPETITIONS NOW OPEN!

We’re delighted to announce the return of our ever-popular French and Spanish Flash Fiction competitions for UK secondary school pupils. If you are learning French and/or Spanish in Years 7-13, you are invited to send us a *very* short story to be in with a chance of winning up to £100! Read on to find out more…

Credit: Aaron Burden via Unsplash

What is Flash Fiction?

We’re looking for a complete story, written in French or Spanish, using no more than 100 words.

Did you know that the shortest story in Spanish is only seven words long?

Cuando despertó, el dinosaurio todavía estaba allí.
(When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there.)

– Augusto Monterroso Bonilla (1921-2003)

What are the judges looking for?

Our judging panel of academics will be looking for imagination and narrative flair, as well as linguistic ability and accuracy. Your use of French or Spanish will be considered in the context of your age and year group: in other words, we will not expect younger pupils to compete against older pupils linguistically. For inspiration, you can read last year’s winning entries for French here, and for Spanish here.

What do I win?

The judges will award a top prize of £100, as well as prizes of £25 to a maximum of two runners up, in each age category. Certificates will also be awarded to pupils who have been highly commended by our judges. Results as well as the winning, runner up, and highly commended stories will be published on this blog, if entrants give us permission to do so.

How do I enter?

You can submit your story via our online forms at the links below.

FrenchSpanish
Years 7-9 Years 7-9
Years 10-11 Years 10-11
Years 12-13 Years 12-13
Click on the links to be taken to the correct submission form for your age/year group.

You may only submit one story per language but you are welcome to submit one story in French AND one story in Spanish if you learn or study both languages. Your submission should be uploaded as a Word document or PDF.

The deadline for submissions is 12 noon on Wednesday 27th March 2024.

Due to GDPR, teachers cannot enter on their students’ behalf: students must submit their entries themselves.

Please note that the competition has changed slightly this year. We are now only accepting entries from UK secondary school pupils.

If you have any questions, please check our FAQs here. If these still don’t answer your question(s), please email us at schools.liaison@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk.

Bonne chance à tous! ¡Buena suerte a todos!

OXFORD GERMAN OLYMPIAD 2024

The Oxford German Network have launched the 12th edition of its annual Olympiad Competition! The competition will run between now and March 2024 with winners being announced in June.

2024 theme: Kafkaesque Kreatures

This year’s competition is all about animals – but from perspectives with a difference. The tasks take inspiration from the animal stories by Franz Kafka (1883-1924), who gave the German and English languages the word kafkaesk / Kafkaesque to describe a weird, disturbing experience. Imagine waking up one morning and finding you’ve turned into a beetle. Or that you’re an animal living in a burrow, worrying about your animal enemies up above. But the animal perspectives aren’t all about weirdness – Kafka was a vegetarian. And his story about the ape Rotpeter shows deep concerns about how humans treat animals.

The Competition Tasks

There are a variety of different challenges aimed at pupils in Years 5 and 6 all the way to Years 12 and 13. Some are for individuals to enter, others are aimed at groups. There is even a taster competition for pupils who have never studied German before! From drawing and painting to writing stories and planning conferences, there’s something for everyone! Take a look at the Olympiad website for more details.

You should:

Please note:

  • All entries must be submitted via the online entry form
  • Each participant may only enter for one task within their age group as an individual entrant. We will only accept group entries (2-4 participants) for the “Open Competition for Groups” category. 
  • We require a consent form for under-13 participants. Click here to download the form.

Note to teachers: Teachers will be able to submit their students´ entries in bulk. Please contact olympiad@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk for instructions.

Further resources & information

Click here for some thoughts and ideas about this year’s tasks. You can also find the Kafka texts and creatures mentioned in the tasks here.

The closing date for all entries is Thursday, 7 March 2024 at 12 noon.

Results will be announced on the Oxford German Network website in June 2024. Winners will be contacted by e-mail.

Any questions? Please email the OGN Coordinator.

Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators

The Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators is a creative translation competition for students aged 11-18 studying French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish. The competition also runs from French into Welsh. The Prize is free to enter and open to all schools across the UK. 

The 2023-24 prize launches today (20 September), when creative translation teaching packs will be shared with teachers in time for European Day of Languages on 26 September and International Translation Day on 30 September. These teaching packs are designed to help teachers bring creative translation into the MFL classroom as well as to help students prepare for the competition task.

Don’t worry if you have not yet registered! There is still plenty of time for teachers to do so as the competition itself will run over several weeks from 5 February to 28 March 2024. Area and national winners will be announced in May or June 2023. They will receive certificates and national winners will receive book prizes.

Over 15,000 students participated in the competition in 2023: see the list of winners and commendations in 2023.  For those registered, teaching packs for poetry translation will be circulated today, fiction will follow after October half term, and non-fiction will be released in early January.  Register to receive these resources and for updates about the competition task, click here

There are a number of related activities run by the Queen’s Translation Exchange that teachers and pupils can participate in, details of which can be found here.

If you have any queries regarding the competition, please contact the Translation Exchange team at translation.exchange@queens.ox.ac.uk.

GCHQ’s National Language Competition

GCHQ, one of the UK’s intelligence agencies, is running a National Language Competition in November aimed at pupils in Year 9 in England and Wales, Year 10 in Northern Ireland, and S3 in Scotland. After the success of the first NLC in 2022, GCHQ is running a second iteration of the competition this year, with the aim of promoting language learning in schools and encouraging the uptake of languages at GCSE/N5.

The competition will be a week-long event from 6th-10th November 2023. Schools will be able to sign up to the event beforehand and enter teams of up to four Year 9 (and equivalents) pupils to take part. A school will be able to submit as many teams of four as they wish. Teams will then be able to log in to the platform during that week (at lunchtimes under teacher supervision or in their own time in the evening) to have a go at the puzzles on the platform.

Pupils will tackle a range of language-related puzzles, ranging from easy to difficult, including European languages and others from around the world, and even made-up languages. Over a period of five days, they will capture flags to earn points on their language journey which will total up at the end of the week and affect their ranking on a national leaderboard. The team with the most points at the end of the week wins!

All pupils will be able to take part, no prior knowledge is required, only a keenness for languages. The winning team with the most points at the end of the competition will be invited to GCHQ’s Headquarters in Cheltenham and will be presented with their trophy!

To take part, schools can email nlc@gchq.gov.uk. We will add you to our mailing list and bring you more news of the competition over the coming months, including information on how to sign up in September!

SPANISH FLASH FICTION 2023: THE HIGHLY COMMENDED ENTRIES (Y12-13)

Following the publication of the winning and runner up entries, we are excited to present the highly commended entries for the Year 12-13 category of this year’s Spanish Flash Fiction competition!

A huge well done to all our highly commended entrants! Without further ado, ¡venga, vamos!

La Mujer

La estatua está sola en el patio de un palacio, suspendida en piedra para siempre. Su expresión es apacible y sonriente, con los brazos extendidos, su vestido que fluye. La Mujer la llaman, por no tenía nombre. Un símbolo perfecto de la feminidad, de silencio, de los oprimidos.

Antes era diferente. En vida estaba una fuerza de la naturaleza, con los ojosbrillantes de desafío, sus dientes al descubierto de furia incalificable. Sus uñas se hincaron en las palmas, dejaron semilunas en sus estelas; vestido rasgado, ensangrentado. La Bruja la llamaban y la evitaban.

– Romilly De Silva, Year 12

«Tenemos que decirte algo, cariño».

En esta fracción de segundo, mi vida se ha puesto patas arriba. Me senté, chocada por esta revelación. Millones de pensamientos daban vueltas en mi cabeza, y unas lágrimas corrían por mi rostro, como un océano de dolor.

Todo lo que pensé que sabía era una mentira.

Es sorprendente que nunca lo haya adivinado. Los secretos, los papeles ocultos, la falta de fotos de mi infancia. Hubiera debido saber que me escondian algo. Pero nunca en mis sueños me pude imaginar que estaban guardando semejante secreto. El secreto de mi existencia.

Soy un niño robado.

– Meghan Henderson, Year 12

Hay una voz en mi cabeza. Te prometo que no estoy loca- se llama ‘inglés’. A veces ojalá no viviera aquí. Quiero correr de él, pero estamos atrapados juntos. Mientras escribo esto, inglés’ traduce y temo que siempre lo haga. Mi corazón quiere creer que entiendo las palabras y en principio sé lo que significan, pero no las siento. Son un concepto y no una realidad. Son un revoltijo de letras y sonidos que me han dicho que significan algo para alguien, hacen que alguien se sienta algo. Ojalá yo fuera ese alguien pero ‘inglés’ siempre será en mi cabeza.

– Martha Burdon, Year 12

La sopa es una comida complicada. Hay personas que dicen que la sopa tiene todas las respuestas. Dicen que si la miras atentamente, encontrarás las soluciones – ni demasiado cortas, ni demasiado largas. Dicen que la sopa tiene todas las informaciones necesarias. Si necesitas suerte, alegría, esperanza – puedes encontrarlas. Pero en mi sopa solo veo las verduras. No sé qué estoy haciendo mal.

Cada vez que voy al supermercado, busco por todas partes la sopa especial. Encuentro sopa de tomate, sopa de pollo – ¡incluso el gazpacho! Pero no sé dónde encontrar la sopa que necesito. La sopa de letras.

– Lara Horsley, Year 13

¿Ustedes aún han oído?

¿No?, les diré la leyenda de la mujer gitana que conjuró a la luna hasta la madrugada. La gitana rogó a la luna por un hombre gitano hasta que le enviara un cíngaro a condición de que se rindiera su primer hijo, que el gitano engendre, a la luna. Sin embargo, de un padre de piel morena, nació un niño blanco como la nieve fría.

El gitano, al creerse deshonrado, se enfrentó a su  mujer y la hirió de muerte con su cuchillo, en las montañas, rindió al niño albino a la luna de plata blanca.

– Charlie Crookes, Year 12

Sancocho

Cuba es un corazón que late, ritmos sincopados de tumbadoras que te llaman a refrescarte en el río que se arremolina en torno a las raíces de tus antepasados.

Los vendedores, gritando sus negocios a través de brillantes olas de calor. Vestigios de nuestra historia, las calles de Camagüey son un respiro mientras todo lo demás se mueve a su alrededor.

Acuno a mi primo mientras se desangra, un agujero en el pecho, su hermano escogió la pelea equivocada.

Aromas de sangre y humo de cigarro, con tintes de cilantro. La sangre caliente empapa la única camisa que tenía, y recuerdo que su madre estaba haciendo sancocho hoy.

– Edith Scott, Year 12

El Caudillo.

Por las calles de Madrid, nos caza. Cruza las playas de Andalucía, nos persigue. En las montañas vascas, nos silencia. Terror, vestido de blanco, nos agarra por la garganta y mientras morimos, por nuestros respiros finales, un último sabor de libertad, su agarre solo se hace más fuerte hasta que todo lo que queda son cadáveres ambulatorios.

Cadáveres desprovistos de autonomía, que sonríen, vistiendo el pretexto de una España en su antiguo esplendor. 

– Jack Hussey, Year 12

El orgullo es el diablo

Puede apoderarse de cualquiera. Se acerca sigilosamente como la Serpiente del Edén, susurrándote palabras venenosas al oído. Si lo consigue, uno puede ahogarse en un abismo de aislamiento, para no ser visto nunca más. el sentimiento en el que te deja es la peor parte; una presión brutal como un maremoto que nos traga enteros, y algunos se ahogan en su abrazo. ¿Se ha apoderado de ti el orgullo? ¿Se ha acercado a ti como una llama silenciosa hasta que te encontraste luchando contra un fuego furioso? un fuego que te rodea y te separa del mundo.

– Josiane Kammani, Year 12

La sombra del tiempo perdido

Las temporadas se disipan, de entrada y salida- un tarareo dulce. La madre Tierra es la titiritera controlando cómo crece y mengua la luna; su mano compasiva cuidando la naturaleza. Ya sea el viento invernal, azotando con fuerza hercúlea o la melodía tranquila de los pájaros, compartiendo serenata del verano; la metamorfosis sigue. No podemos frenarla ni acelerarla- lo único seguro, un constante en la vida siempre cambiante. Los días son segundos y los meses, horas- quizás las temporadas son una medida de tiempo del mundo, nos prestan claridad y paz infinita; hasta que dejemos que su alma durmiente descanse.

– Eva Murphy, Year 12

¡ Felicidades a todos!

FRENCH FLASH FICTION 2023: THE HIGHLY COMMENDED ENTRIES (Y12-13)

Following the publication of the winning and runner up entries, we are excited to present the highly commended entries for the Year 12-13 category of this year’s French Flash Fiction competition!

A huge well done to all our highly commended entrants! Without further ado, allez, on y va!

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L’horizon

J’entendais l’horizon dans la voix de ma mère, saisissant le bleu d’un lac sous le ciel blanc : elle était l’immensité entre tout cela. La maison effaçait l’éternité brouillée entre la noyade et l’envol.

Une fois, j’ai vu des rivières coulant sur ses joues. Elle avait pour yeux des fontaines tremblantes qui m’ont fait peur. Plus tard, j’ai appris à craindre les ténèbres et l’inconnu.

C’est d’elle que j’avais appris le mot « fort », et tous les mots pour la peine. Ce jour-là, il n’y en avait aucun.

Aujourd’hui, l’horizon est disparu. C’est trop tard pour des paroles.

– Sophie Shen, Year 12

IEl

« Iel » ai-je dit.

Ce n’est pas offensif, mais il me regarde comme saleté sombre , comme des épées dégoûtants  , qui pénètrent son corps propre .

« Vous-Voulez dire…il »

« Non. »

Le silence. J’ai détesté le silence. C’est plus facile d’être silencieux et j’ai souffert des conséquences.

J’ai été ancré par mon propre désir d’être accepté par les gens qui m’accueillent comme un chien. Je voulais encore l’amour; un amour doux qui me mettrait au lit et me tiendrait délicatement.

Il me regarde encore une fois. Ses yeux sont morts; son visage gras et opaque. Qu’est-ce qu’on doit  faire  pour apparaître vivant dans ses yeux?

– Niall Slack, Year 12

Il est allé loin, trop loin…

Il a demandait au seigneur, “Seigneur, donnez-moi la force pour que je puisse aller loin, loin d’ici.” Il a priait, rêvant d’ une vie où il ne serait embrassé que par sa tranquillité d’esprit. Il aspirait à la sérénité, il aspirait à l’agrément. Le rouge était la couleur qu’il voyait tous les jours, et le noir était la couleur qu’il voyait quand tous les sons autour s’éloignaient. Il voulait voir des arcs-en-ciel, mais à la fin, il n’a vu que de la lumière blanche, et il réalisa qu’il était allé loin, mais trop loin…

– Ishana Sonnar, Year 13

Jamais je n’ai ressenti une joie authentique. Mais, dans un monde où on met les émotions en bouteille et les vend, un jour j’ai découvert un marché clandestin vendant des émotions les plus rares. J’ai trouvé, acheté une fiole de pur bonheur. En sortant, j’ai entendu une conversation choquante: les émotions étaient récoltées de donneurs non-consentants, dont certains ne survivaient au processus. Je dois faire quoi- révéler la vérité, risquant tout, ou me taire, vivant avec la culpabilité? J’ai pris ma décision. Brisant la fiole, je suis partie. Et, ce-moment-là, j’ai ressenti un sentiment libérateur que je n’avais jamais connu.

– Maliha Uddin, Year 13

Avec mes doigts tremblants, je pose le garni finale, une tige de persil, délicatement sur le filet.
«La recette vient de ma grand-mère, j’espère qu’elle te ferait plaisir,” je dis, avec un gros sourire sur mon visage. Ma voix manque d’air car je suis exaspérée par le travail dur de cuisiner. Le plat est symétrique, avec deux demi-cercles de purée de pommes de terre entourant la viande et la sauce au vin de cerise qui s’accumule avec de la myoglobine.
En face de moi, le cadavre en décomposition de mon copain suinte du sang—un biceps decoupee du bras gauche.

– Alexandra Kozlova, Year 12

Tendre la main

‘Prête?’

Je ferme les yeux et j’acquiesce. La partition bruisse dans sa poigne tremblante. Soudain, les touches du piano s’animent. Les années fondent de ses mains fragiles, maintenant se tendant, pleines d’assurance. Je les saisis. Mon saxophone inonde l’air avec nostalgie. Nous échangeons des notes, tissant nos pensées en débat enjoué. Comme le tonnerre et la pluie, nos mélodies fusionnent et avec un apogée, l’orage éclate.

L’enregistrement se termine. Le silence tombe. J’ouvre les yeux pour voir le couvercle du piano toujours fermé. Je tends la main, tremblant comme lui autrefois. J’appuie sur play à nouveau.

‘Prête?’ Non, pas encore.

– Odette Mead, Year 12

Le Flâneur

C’est moi, le flâneur. C’est moi, que tu vois chaque jour, autour de la ville.

Qui traverse le pont, qui fais le tour du marché, qui rentre dans l’église juste pour en ressortir. Qui dis bonjour au boulanger, à ceux et celle qui passe.

Mais que vois-je ? Je témoins l’antan : les traces de nos empires, nos républiques, nos luttes et nos avances… l’âme incassable de notre ville.

Un jour, je ferais partis de cette histoire. Rien qu’une mémoire, rien qu’un esprit. Mais, un morceau de cette âme, que je ressens avec une telle amour.

– Hugo Sherzer-Facchini, Year 12

Prouvez votre humanité. 

Prouvez votre humanité. 

Je regarde fixement l’écran de l’ordinateur. Le site me demande de prouver mon humanité, mais comment? Et d’ailleurs, c’est quoi, l’humanité – les guerres ou les principes humanistes? Les deux? Ou bien l’indifférence envers eux?

Frustrée, je passe à un autre onglet qui s’avère être celle du ChatGPT. Je lui ai demandé de terminer mon essai sur la poésie d’Emily Dickinson comme un défi pour son temps. Et c’est exactement ce qu’il a fait, cet outil écrivant plus éloquemment que moi et pourtant pas arrogant; impartial mais pas insensible.

Prouvez votre humanité; non, c’est trop ironique. 

– Daria Knurenko, Year 12

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Félicitations tout le monde!