Apr 6 2012 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Friday
TEENAGER Bruce Baillie-Hamilton need seldom be lost for words – especially as he has seven languages to choose them from!
The 14-year-old from Callander has been named Most Multilingual Child in Britain.
The silver-tongued teen speaks English (his mother tongue), Russian, Mandarin, Arabic, French, German and Spanish.
The competition – launched to mark the start of a new range of online language courses – involved the search for the child (15 years and younger) in Britain who could speak the widest range of languages.
And while the applicants’ range included everything from Welsh, Polish, and Sinhalese, to Hungarian, Dutch and Italian, Collins language experts judged that Bruce was a clear winner.
The second in a family of four, Bruce’s parents – local laird and Oxford graduate Mike and metabolism expert and author Dr Paula Baillie-Hamilton – and grandparents do not speak any other language apart from English.
He has been learning Russian, Mandarin and Arabic with teachers at his home in Scotland, but star-ted learning French, German and Spanish while at Beaconhurst School, Bridge of Allan, which he attended from 2003-2011.
Since September last year he has continued his language lessons at Le Foley in Switzerland.
Bruce said: “I am very happy to have won this prize. It's a great honour. I would also like to thank all the language teachers at Beaconhurst School who have inspired me over the years.”
Bruce has been interviewed speaking in Russian on Russian TV channel, NTV, which has an audience of over 100 million Russian speakers.
Along with his elder brother Angus he read excerpts from an unpublished Walter Scott poem in Russian and even gave a vocal rendition of a Russian folk song.
In 2010 Bruce passed GCSE Russian and last year he passed Arabic and Mandarin GCSEs, and AS level Russian (all A grades).
Bruce was judged via skype by Collins Language experts to ensure he could communicate to CEFR Level B1 for each language.
The criteria for the speaking element included: “Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.”
As a prize for his linguist ability, Bruce won an iPad 2 loaded with language learning software, and a selection of Collins dictionaries for Beaconhurst School. He was awarded his prize at HarperCollins' Headquarters in Glasgow earlier this week.