The Edinburgh high school where pupils speak 47 different languages

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With its myriad different conversations in scores of different languages from right round the world, the playground at Trinity Academy has been dubbed a ‘mini United Nations’.

With no less than 47 different languages from Arabic to Zulu being heard in the classrooms and corridors of the capital high school, it has been confirmed as the most diverse in the city, maybe in the country.

Trinity Academy has been named as the most diverse school in Edinburgh. Picture: Jon Savage

Trinity Academy has been named as the most diverse school in Edinburgh. Picture: Jon Savage

And to recognise the breadth of diversity in the school and highlight the benefits of speaking another language, teacher Michelle Millar created a Festival of Languages event.

She said the slogan “I’m bilingual, what’s your superpower” showcases bilingualism as a skill and instils pride in pupils who have diverse cultural backgrounds.

“We want them to see themselves as special and that they have this innate skill that can empower them,” Ms Millar said. “The invisible connections created by language makes us stronger as a community.”

The event will see pupils interacting with each other at over 30 stalls, picking up new alphabets, phrases and information about the cultures behind their peers’ languages.

Amina Abid’s parents are from Algeria and she has grown up speaking Arabic and the language of the indigenous Berbers.

“We speak Arabic at home and French is also spoken in Algeria so I also speak that,” she said.

“This event is a really great way to share my culture and my roots and the variety across the school.”

Fourteen-year-old Chelsea Quaison, has picked up three languages as well as English, after being surrounded by family who speak different Ghanian languages.

“I speak Twi, Mfantse and Ga. Twi is the main language as I live with my mum and that’s what she speaks.

“This event is really good as people don’t know a lot about African languages – some people thought there was one language for the whole continent so I like being able to share and educate people that there’s more to Africa than just a few countries or languages.”

Research shows that bilingual children learn earlier that other people can have a point of view, something Professor Antonella Sorace, director of Bilingualism Matters said is important in today’s world. She said: “Children exposed to different languages become more aware of different cultures, other people and other points of view.

“But they also tend to be better than monolinguals at ‘multitasking’ and focusing attention.

“They are often more precocious readers, and generally find it easier to learn other languages.”

Cllr Ian Perry added: “Today’s Festival of Languages event at Trinity Academy provides a great platform for pupils who speak different languages to promote and share their language and culture.

“Everyone can take great pride in the diversity of their cultures at the school and how these are respected and valued by the wider school community.”