Former Shrewsbury School pupil is Languages Undergraduate of the Year

Former Shrewsbury School pupil James Ellis has won a prestigious national competition and been named 'Language Undergraduate of the Year'.  James left the School in 2009 and is now in his final year at Newcastle University studying French, German and Spanish. He is originally from Shrewsbury.

Speaking on behalf of the teachers who taught James languages at Shrewsbury School, Head of German Dr Chris Minns said, “I remember James as an exceptionally versatile and enthusiastic linguist, always keen to express himself as authentically as possible in the target language. We are delighted to hear that he has continued to develop his skills at university to such a high level.”

Launching the competition, EU Career – the official recruiter for the European Union Commission at Brussels – said: "We're searching the UK’s best universities to find the most outstanding multi-lingual student of the year. We're looking for a winning mix of personal skills, career motivation and an excellent academic record as well as the ability to speak more than one EU language fluently."

The selection process was highly demanding, as James describes: "I had to submit an application form, almost as if it were for a job, and answer a few relevant questions: Why is multilingualism important? What advantages do young people have growing up in the EU? etc. A few days later I progressed to the next stage; 650+ had people applied and 60 of us were invited to sit some online tests: numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, situational judgment, logic tests and a personality questionnaire.

"A few weeks later I was one of 12 people invited to the final stage, which was held in London. First we had a 40-minute group activity simulating a cabinet meeting (in French!) Next we had individual 10-minute competency-based interviews, and finally we were given a large dossier and told to prepare a presentation on the subject within 20 minutes.

“I am extremely grateful to all the staff in the Languages Faculty at Shrewsbury School for aiding me and inspiring me in my language-learning. Without the excellent support, encouragement and quality of teaching offered to me at Shrewsbury, I doubt I would be in this position now, and I am immensely grateful for all they did for me during the excellent five years I spent there."

James was presented with his award by Sir Trevor McDonald OBE at a gala ceremony in Canary Wharf, London. He will also be given a two-day VIP trip to Brussels, to meet some of the EU's top policy-makers and visit some of its most famous institutions.

Staff and pupils at Shrewsbury School look forward to welcoming James back to the School on 17th June, when he returns to adjudicate a Modern Languages Speaking Competition.


Pete White Pete White

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