Update: 3rd July 2017 – Grace wins Gold Medal! 

Grace has been crowned National Champion of the Spelling Bee (Spanish) at the University of Cambridge.

62,000 Year 7 pupils from all around the country originally entered the competition. 

Just days later, Millie Headley added to the languages medal haul with a silver medal at the National MFL Translation Bee Final. Over 16,000 UK Year 8 pupils had entered. 

Original Story: March 2017

Two girls have represented Berkhamsted School at the regional finals of the Foreign Language Spelling Bee 2017.

Grace Botha and Anais Tate were challenged to learn a wide vocabulary and then recite the spellings as fast as possible using the alphabet of their chosen foreign language.  With over 9,000 contestants Grace’s outstanding performances placed her 3rd, and she earned a place at the National Finals in July.

The qualification began in September when each Year 7 class in Berkhamsted held a competition. Early in 2017 a whole school final identified the two pupils with the best vocabulary, spelling and memory skills to represent the school at the regionals.

Grace entered with high hopes. “At the beginning my aim was to reach the regional final, but I was surprised and delighted to emerge from the school competition as the winner along with Anais. There were several really talented linguists I was up against even within my class, so I always thought it would be hard to get through,” she said.

“I was nervous going into the regional finals, it’s the first time I’ve entered a competition like this. To prepare, I just kept going through words and trying to do it faster and faster while making sure I was getting the spelling correct every time.  I would do this in my head throughout the day, and out loud whenever I could.

“It was also really nice to practice with Anais, and we supported each other all the way.”

‘E-S-T-A-D-O-U-N-I-D-E-N-S-E’

“One of the longest words was ‘Estadounidense, it’s the Spanish word for the American. I practised this one a lot. Eh, es-eh, teh, ah, deh, oh, ooh, en-eh, ee, deh, eh, en-eh, es-eh, eh”

Grace has just been presented with a list of 200 Spanish words to learn for the final, which takes place in July at Anglia Ruskin University.

Remarkably, Grace goes into the final stage to compete against the best in the country having only started learning Spanish last year.  Her phenomenal progress is a great testament to her talent, dedication and to the support she’s had from staff at Westbrook Hay Preparatory School (Year 6) and Berkhamsted School (Year 7).