Bright young linguist learns African tongue for a chance to win competition

CLEVER Ben Fawcett
CLEVER Ben Fawcett

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LANGUAGES are a piece of cake to a bright primary schoolboy who is currently learning a tonal African dialect for a national competition finale.

Ben Fawcett, nine, shot to first place in the South East semi-final round of the Eurotalk language competition with his impressive grasp of the Kazakh tongue last month.

The pupil at Oakwood School in Chichester was up against about 30 children under the age of 10 chosen out of a pool of 3,000 competitors.

They used computers to select the right answers for a range of questions about Kazakh words and phrases against the clock.

Now Ben will face about 30 schoolchildren across the country at the grand final at London’s Olympia in the October half term.

And he has just over a week left to master conversational Lugandan, a tonal African language spoken in Uganda.

Ben is very excited about getting through to the final, even though it means he and his mum will have to fly home five days early from a family holiday in Florida to take part.

He said: ‘It’s not been too hard learning the languages so far, and I’m really pleased to get to the final.

‘Lugandan is the hardest to learn, especially the body parts, which all sound really similar!

‘I’m doing about half an hour study a night, and I’ll have to carry on when we’re in Florida, even in Disneyworld! Mum has helped me work out a schedule.’

He added: ‘I would recommend this competition to anyone else.

‘The computer program you learn with is fun and it uses things like memory games and all sorts to help you remember the new words.

‘There are some really good prizes at the finals – I hope I win the computer!’