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Xaverian College students win Talking About Voices competition

Emilio Fox Castineiras and Faith Axon-Kendall, Year 12 students at Xaverian College, were recently crowned winners of this years Talking About Voices competition, led by Manchester Voices.

Manchester Voices is a research project which explores the rich tapestry of accents, dialects, and identities that make up Greater Manchester. The project is based at Manchester Metropolitan University, and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The Talking About Voices competition, one of six strands of the project, is an opportunity for secondary school and college students in Greater Manchester to learn about audio production while also reflecting on issues around language and identity. The objective is for pupils to make a short podcast episode about language and identity, with plenty of ideas, training and support provided along the way.

Emilio completed his GCSEs at Chorlton High School before joining Xaverian to study English Language, Film Studies and History. He commented: “The theme of our podcast was primarily focused on bilingualism, and our thoughts on whether or not we had different personalities when speaking in two different languages. However, because Faith has lived in Andalucía and my family are from Galicia, we also got to talk about the differences between our regional Spanish accents and dialects.”

Faith, who also studies English Language, alongside Media Studies and Spanish, added: “It was our English Teacher, Mr Perry, that encouraged us to enter the competition. It was great finding out we were this year’s winners! We both think it is really important for young people to reflect on issues surrounding language and identity as it is part of everyday life, and are keen to continue learning new languages in the future.”

Dr Holly Dann, Research Associate at Manchester Metropolitan University, commented: “We created Talking About Voices in 2020 as a way to give young people from the region a voice in our research, and also as a way to provide resources based on the project to the local community.

“Language is an integral part of who we are. We can tell so much about people just from the way they speak, and it is a really important way to express our identities. Young people are so often – and always have been – faced with corrections and criticisms of the way they speak. As linguists, we are interested in and celebrate all different ways of speaking, and understand the great value of speaking with, for example, a regional accent and dialect. We hope that reflecting on issues around language and identity help young people to see that value too.

“We really enjoyed listening to the Xaverian entries. We were impressed by how well the students managed to bring in their own reading and learning in linguistics to their episodes. In particular, we loved how Emilio and Faith were able to blend in their own personal experiences with more academic descriptions of language in Manchester, Andalucía and Galicia.”

If you’re passionate about communication, or love to read, then English is a course you’ll find irresistible. At Xaverian, students can choose to study A Levels in English Language, English Literature, or a combined English Language and Literature course, where you get to study Shakespeare one lesson, and then wield your own words to wax wonders on the world in the next.

As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers exciting opportunities to over 2500 students. To find out more, visit Xaverian.ac.uk – Explore Your Future!

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