Shrewsbury School

Modern Foreign Languages Speaking Competition

Thursday 21 June 2018

The Modern Foreign Languages Speaking Competition is traditionally a modest but treasured event that promotes foreign language and culture and celebrates the art of reciting poetry. 

It gives Salopians of all ages the opportunity to engage with the cultural offering of their chosen languages, whilst developing their memorising skills, expanding their vocabulary and promoting more competent and confident speakers. 

This year’s event was held on Tuesday 19th June in Hodgson Hall, where over 25 keen linguists representing four different languages shared a favourite poem. Judges Mr Sheppe and Miss Bordi commenced the evening by establishing the success criteria for the competition: controlled and clear delivery, sensitivity to idiomatic pronunciation and intonation, and variety in dynamics and pace. Most importantly, the winning performance would be the one which most powerfully conveyed a personal conviction and involvement in the poem’s meaning and sentiment. 

Aspiring future contestants should therefore select their poem well in advance – it takes time to internalise the words and imagery, to learn to assume the writer’s voice and to embody the feeling. Our winners were very successful in this respect, and treated us to some impressively stirring performances, such as Victoria’s Kazachkova’s recitation of Alarcón’s Las palabras son pájaros

Many congratulations to our winners, whose names are listed below. It is a challenging task to convey the meaning of a poem in a second language, and it was a very enriching evening for all those who attended. Special thanks must go to our judges, to our organisers, and to our many contestants. 

We hope this event will continue to grow in participation and prestige in the years to come. As Mr Sheppe poignantly reminded us at the end, when we deeply engage with the task of memorising and reciting a poem, the connotations and images that it evokes will remain part of us forever. 

Emily Higgins


Spanish: Victoria Kazachkova (4F) and Grace O’Mara (L6)

French: Rhys Woodward (4F) and Ali Davis (L6)

German: Milton Tai (4F) and Oscar Mattinson (L6)

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