Aston University Competition

Report by Mrs Morris

Earlier last term, Aston University invited Smith’s Wood Academy to take part in an English competition for the West Midlands, and once again, our students excelled.

The aim of the “Mother Tongue Other Tongue” competition is to celebrate the culture and English learning of bilingual students, using poetry in their mother tongue to reflect on and appreciate their heritage. Led by Routes into Languages West Midlands, it was open to all students who can speak another language and over 50 schools took part.

We are very pleased to announce that two of our year 9 students, Aymen and Paula, were awarded “Highly Commended” certificates, with analyses of an Italian and a Romanian poem respectively. Not only that, two more Smith’s Wood Academy students, Juan and Amadou (both year 10), submitted stories that made it into the top 15. Here is Juan’s story:

“My name is Juan and before I came to England six months ago, I used to live with my grandmother in Brazil, now I live with my auntie in Birmingham.”

Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘Wherever I go, my mother’s prayers follow me’, however I lived with my grandmother, so I can say that my grandmother’s prayers followed and supported me. Her prayer was an unusual one; it was a line from Elvis Presley’s song ‘You are always on my mind’. She used to listen to this song, when she felt down and sad; she used to play this song for me when I felt down or sad, and this song made us both happy. My grandmother did not know the meaning of the words, but she was repeating them like a mantra… ‘You are always on my mind…’ ‘You are always on my mind…’

These words are always on my mind now when I think of her; these words make me happier when I miss her. It’s funny really that my favourite song is not in Portuguese, but is an American song, maybe this means something? I like to believe that this is a sign of my destiny to come and learn English, so I know what the words mean and I can translate them for my grandmother.”

Juan’s work really speaks for itself, and it certainly reflects the quality and creativity that our bilingual students brought to this event. It was great for all to see them taking pride in their heritage and gaining so much from the occasion. Every one of our participants did themselves proud, and it demonstrated once again that the students of Smith’s Wood Academy rise to a challenge with aplomb. Well done!