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Spy Kids! GCHQ event highlights language opportunities for Welsh school pupils

15 December 2017

GCHQ event

Budding linguists from across Wales recently took part in a top-secret event to learn more about how language skills are crucial to the UK’s intelligence service.

On 16 November, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) visited the School of Modern Languages to give Year 10 pupils an unprecedented insight into their work.

The School of Modern Languages, GCHQ and Business Language Champions worked together to host the event entitled ‘The word is not enough’.

GCHQ plays a part in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, and other forms of serious crime, as well as providing support to military operations across the world. Working with the UK’s international partners, GCHQ help inform UK policy on a range of security topics but did you realise they employ a large team of linguists to help with their work?

To illustrate how multilingual staff are essential to GCHQ’s remit, pupils from a number of Welsh schools became language analysts for the day; taking an area of government work as a theme. The students competed against each other in a number of tasks which used their language skills to uncover details about hypothetical international crimes.  The pupils also experienced language sessions in Korean, Arabic and Mandarin Chinese to give them a taste of the languages that are most relevant to GCHQ’s work.

At the end of the event, the team of pupils from Bishop Gore School, Swansea was crowned winner of the day and awarded the exciting prize of a day out at Bletchley Park, home of the WW2 codebreakers. The team will be able to explore and experience the top-secret world of iconic codebreaking huts and blocks set within an atmospheric Victorian estate.

Thank you to Ysgol Bryngwyn, Ysgol Bro Dinefwr, Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen, Cwmtawe Community School, Crickhowell High School, Bishop Gore School, Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera, and Ysgol Dyffryn Aman for all visiting the School and taking part in such a fun day. Languages can open up your world to a whole host of careers and days like this help school pupils see the multitude of possibilities ahead of them.

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