A Busy Term for Languages!

It has been a busy few months in the Modern Languages Department, which has seen us enjoy some cross-curricular links with the Drama and Music Departments. UIV linguists have been working through some complex challenges in the GCHQ competition, and some Sixth Form French pupils have taken part in the regional debating competition, the Joûtes Oratoires, at Haberdashers’ Boys’ School. 

On 4 November, the Modern Language Society and the Music Society joined forces and held their inaugural Languages in Harmony concert in the Fisher Library. The audience was treated to songs in French, Italian, Mandarin and Hindi, and it was a wonderful way to start a weekend. Many thanks to all those who took part. 

The following week, girls in the LIV and UIV studying French, were treated to a performance of La Maison Hantée by Onatti Productions. With some marvellous audience participation and a thoroughly engaging performance, it was wonderful to see how a play entirely in French can be accessible to pupils at varying stages of their language journey; a very memorable evening. See below two reports from Rozzie and Sissie about the performance.

In the same week, 26 UIV linguists took part in the inaugural National Language Challenge run by intelligence agency GCHQ. Girls competed in teams of up to four people and worked together to tackle a wide range of linguistic challenges using an online platform against other schools across the country. The highest scoring team from Wycombe Abbey was Stormy Handsome Sheep comprised of Annika, Sula, Katya and Clelia. Congratulations to everyone who took part and we hope that many of our current LIV will participate in the competition next year. 

Finally, on 17 November, four Sixth Formers, Phoebe, Isabel, Alice and Isabella, travelled to Haberdashers’ Boys’ School to take part in the Joûtes Oratoires, an annual fixture in our calendar. Debating against eight other schools, the pupils argued elegantly, persuasively, articulately and passionately about ethical matters such as hunting, strikes, and the Qatar World Cup. Isabella and Alice made it through to the quarter final, and were hugely impressive in their debate about the dangers of dating websites. Despite not qualifying for the national final in March, the girls did extremely well, and their feedback from the judges was very complementary. We are already looking forward to next year’s competition.

Ms Lucy Nott
Head of Languages

La maison hantée 

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this performance of La maison hantée and was laughing the whole way through! The actors did an excellent job at making the performance extremely comedic and humorous, and there was never a mundane part of the play. One thing I particularly enjoyed was how much the actors interacted with the audience throughout the entire performance, for instance when they asked one of us to come on stage and rearrange a sentence in French that spelt out ‘Leave my house!’. The whole play was spoken in French, which I found fantastic because it gave me a chance to learn some new vocabulary and experience watching a play that wasn’t in English for the first time. I absolutely loved getting to watch this hilarious play and I am extremely grateful to the actors for putting on such a wonderful performance for us all! 


La Maison Hantée – Mon expérience d’une pièce de théâtre 
Interactive. Immersive. Rolling-on-the-floor funny. All key ingredients for an entertained audience, the majority of whom had previously experienced doubts over their own linguistic capability in understanding a French play without a textbook in hand. Yet our persisting belief in giving it a go, was rewarded with an evening of endless laughter as we swapped eager conjectures over what might (or might not) happen next.  
With their zealously-exaggerated actions accompanying their words, cheerful attitudes towards our inquiring faces and dramatic expressions, we quickly caught on to the plot, which involved the many strange experiences of Antoine and Zoé as they navigated through several close encounters with the ‘ghost’ in the haunted house – the deceased owner. A special highlight for me, were the ‘special effects’ the actors sportingly engaged with during the play, sending us into shrieks of delight as another disembodied arm waved a book behind the unsuspecting Zoé, or when the crone-like costume made another guest appearance, behind the unsuspecting Antoine.

Walking out of LAC later that evening, allowed me to reflect on how much I benefitted from this experience, both mentally and emotionally: this allowed me to believe in my own abilities in understanding French, enjoy a much-welcomed break from the daily schedule, as well as realise that languages break barriers instead of creating them.  
From the first “je ne sais pas” to the last “au revoir”, each moment will be held in fond memory.


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