Some of the student who entered the Think Languages International Cookery Competition 

Bower's Think Languages celebration catches national attention

By Ella Scullion, Transition Year

The Think Languages celebration at Our Lady’s Bower caught national attention and has been shortlisted as one of the top events in the country

From Monday, November 27 to Friday, December 1, Our Lady’s Bower celebrated #ThinkLanguages. #ThinkLanguages is an event run by Post Primary Languages Ireland, which celebrates the importance of language-learning for career, personal and social benefits.

Our Lady’s Bower was delighted to have been shortlisted as one of the top 10 schools in the country for the #ThinkLanguages National Finals. As a result, on Tuesday, November 28, Our Lady’s Bower welcomed a judge from Post Primary Languages Ireland to the school, to observe the #ThinkLanguages celebrations.

Team Spain who participated in the Spain vs Ireland volleyball match
Team Ireland who played in the Spain vs Ireland volleyball match
The 2023 Think Languages Champion Team at Our Lady’s Bower. 
TY students made Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) for Think Languages Day. 
Ukranian students delivering a presentation on Ukranian language and culture. 
Naoise McCormack enjoying the crepes she made during the French cookery workshop for Think Languages Day
Bláthín Moran and Aideen Derwin were joint winners of the “What learning languages means to me poster competition for Think Languages Day”
Students learning a Somalian Dance for Think Languages Day
Lily O'Connor, Ava Rowe and Isobel Claffey were the winners of the Think Languages Murder Mystery
Students enjoying a Chinese lantern-making workshop led by Bower student Cindy Zhang. 

In anticipation of the event, six Transition Year students were selected, by means of an application process, to form the school’s #ThinkLanguages Championship Team, which would be responsible for the organisation and coordination of the event. These students were Hannah Murray, Ella Scullion, Teresa Detoche, Eilish Brehany, Cindy Zhang and Mia Daly.

In early September, the #ThinkLanguages Champion Team began to conduct research and discovered that within the school community, 66 different languages are spoken. In the weeks leading up to #ThinkLanguages Day, TY, 1st year and 2 year students made over 70 flags representing the different nationalities and cultures in the school community. The corridors of our school were decorated with these flags for #ThinkLanguages Day.

Some of the key events that took place on #ThinkLanguages Day included

A number of students from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds gave presentations to TY students on their native languages and cultures. Teresa Detoche gave an insightful presentation on Cameroonian French. Kathy Tran gave TY students a beginner’s lesson in Vietnamese. Elena, Martina and Raquel from Spain gave a presentation on Spanish traditions and taught some Flamenco Dancing. Vicky, Joan and Charlotte from Germany quizzed the students on their knowledge of German. Ukrainian students Sofiia, Anya, Anna and Sasha delivered a presentation on Ukrianian language and culture. Hanaan, Jihan and Nawal from Somalia taught the Transition Years a traditional Somalian Dance. Finally, Hawra from Iraq gave a presentation on the Arabic language. It was wonderful for the Transition Year students to become immersed in the languages and cultures.

Our Lady’s Bower was delighted to welcome students from St Mary’s NS to the school for some taster lessons in French, German and Spanish. The lessons were delivered by Transition year students, who also spoke to students about why they chose to study French/Spanish/German. The aim of this activity was to encourage all 6th class students to study at least one foreign language in secondary school.

At lunch time on #ThinkLanguages Day, all Junior Cycle students participated in a murder mystery activity “Who killed Mr Barrett?”. For this language-based activity, students had to interview four of the school's language teachers in French, German, Spanish and Gaeilge to gain access to a series of clues in different languages that would lead them to the culprit.

TY students participated in a French Crepe making workshop with French Language assistant, Lisa Bonnet.

TY students enjoyed a Japanese cookery workshop with Japanese teacher, Chie, in which they made Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes).

#ThinkLanguages National Quiz: All TY students participated in the #ThinkLanguages national quiz, run by Languages Connect.

Transition Year student Cindy Zhang delivered a lantern making workshop through Chinese. Cindy taught the students some basic Chinese phrases as well as many interesting facts about the Chinese New Year

On #ThinkLanguages Day, the Spanish exchange students in Our Lady’s Bower played a volleyball match against the school’s volleyball team. All normal rules of volleyball applied plus one extra rule: the Spanish students were only allowed to speak Irish, and the Irish students were only allowed to speak Spanish. Well done to Team Spain, who had a 25-23 victory.

Students had the opportunity to cook/bake something from another country and write a short description of their dish in the language of its country of origin. Congratulations to Vicky Burkl who was the winner of best overall Senior dish, and Devine McDonald, who was the winner in the Junior competition.

Our TY students also enjoyed a number of language- and culture-based workshops provided by the PPLI including Irish Sign Language, Arabic Belly Dancing, Portuguese Capoeira, Chinese Calligraphy, Russian Ballet and EU Interpreting.

Students had the opportunity to get creative through designing a poster depicting what languages mean to them.

Congratulations to Miracle Ikwuagwu who won the Senior competition and to Aideen Derwin and Bláthin Moran who were joint winners of the Junior competition.

In the weeks leading up to #ThinkLanguages Day, all TY students worked in groups to prepare lessons in French, German or Spanish to deliver to first year students.

Four guest speakers representing four different career paths with modern languages, spoke to TY students on #ThinkLanguages Day.

Kate Hall: Trainee at the EU Department of Global Affairs (Brussels); Caoimhe Kelly: Marketing Executive (Paris); Criostóir King: EU Environmental Protection Agency (Copenhagen); and Déarbhla Hennessy: Feminism Advocate (Angers).