Linguists at RAF Waddington: La vie dans l'inconnu

Linguists at RAF Waddington: La vie dans l'inconnu

Languages are important in so many aspects of our daily lives - they not only open up a huge range of career opportunities, but also allow you to interact with new people and perhaps discover different cultures. With this in mind, Miss Perrière organised a group of six dual linguists from Repton School to participate in a language and science competition, being held at RAF Waddington. 

On 26th June, Jacob Davies, Izzy Hankins, Jessie Smith, Hattie English, Dasha Isakova, Miss Perrière and I headed to the RAF Base at Waddington, to put our French and Science knowledge to the test. The day promised to be very beneficial, allowing us to see how foreign languages and science can be brought together in a fully operational organisation, such as the RAF. 

The main focus of the challenge was to design and build a ‘Space Hotel’, which could be used for scientific research as well as leisure activities. As always, coming up with a team name proved to be one of the most difficult tasks of the competition! However, after much deliberation we decided on the catchy and effective name of, ‘La vie dans l'inconnu’ (life in the unknown).  


With the principle of our Space Hotel clarified, Jacob and Hattie began to model our design. To acquire materials to build our models, we were required to negotiate in another language. This tested not only our knowledge of vocabulary, but also helped us to improve our pronunciation in French general conversation. Whilst constructing our unusual design, we continuously discussed the science that lay behind our ideas. These ideas included the use of nanoparticles in materials for hygiene and strength, the use of hydrogen fuel cells and also the idea of re-using waste materials by the process of 3D printing. 

Our day’s challenges entailed our team presenting two detailed presentations on our ideas. Having completed an engineering presentation of our design, we were then given the task of creating a marketing campaign in French. In this presentation, each member of the team explained, in French, the advantages of our project and the great commercial opportunity it presented. We each spoke with clarity and confidence and delivered our pitch in true Apprentice style! Well done to Jessie who won a prize for her confidence and enthusiasm! 

To round off an excellent day, we were given the opportunity to learn some phrases from the Russian language. An understanding of Russian is often required by linguists within the RAF. It was fascinating to learn how certain words are written and pronounced. Writing our names in Russian was a little confusing at first. However, with Dasha coming to our rescue, we quickly mastered it!

All in all, the day was extremely useful – for me it highlighted how an understanding of languages opens up a whole new world of opportunities. We are all very grateful to the organisers of the event and especially to Paul Hughes, who shared his experiences working as a government spy for MI5 – sometimes shocking but equally exciting and inspiring! 

Thank you also Miss Perrière – you have been such an amazing French teacher and will be really missed. We all wish you every success in the future studies and career. 
Fran Cole (4F)

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