North Yorkshire student, 14, wins prestigious University of Oxford award for top German skills

A talented youngster from a North Yorkshire school has won a top accolade from the University of Oxford for showcasing creative linguistic skills.

Anastasia Bell, a Ripon Grammar School student, has received national recognition for showcasing and celebrating the German language. Photo credit: Submitted picture
Anastasia Bell, a Ripon Grammar School student, has received national recognition for showcasing and celebrating the German language. Photo credit: Submitted picture

Anastasia Bell, 14, a Ripon Grammar School student, has received national recognition for showcasing and celebrating the German language.

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Ms Bell, from Thirsk, fought off stiff competition from more than 170 entries in her age group from schools all over the UK to finish as a runner-up in the annual competition for learners of German.

This year the university challenged students with a theme of the Alps - to get students creative with their language skills.

For her entry Ms Bell, a Year 9 student drew and then described in German, her version of a mythical alpine creature.

She said she was inspired by the German ‘Wolpertinger’. In German folklore the animal is said to inhabit the alpine forests of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany.

It has a body comprising various animal parts - including wings, antlers, a tail, and fangs, all attached to the body of a small mammal.

The most common description portrays the Wolpertinger as having the head of a hare, the body of a squirrel, the antlers of a deer, and the wings and occasionally the legs of a pheasant.

She said: “The idea came from stories I read online about the... funny looking creature.

"I had a vague picture of it in my head and knew it would be made up of parts from various animals. I pictured it as quite majestic.”

Ms Bell, who also studies French, Latin and Ancient Greek, added her love of languages has been inspired by her fascination with the way different people experience life.

She said “Through learning languages, you also develop an understanding of the culture of the other country.”

Ripon Grammar School German teacher Mrs Stoker said she was very pleased and proud of Anastasia and hopes her success will see an increase in the uptake for laungauges at the school in future years.

Mrs Stoker said: “Anastasia is a very talented Germanist, hard-working, very creative and extremely well deserving of her prize along with the recognition by the Oxford German Network and Oxford University.”

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