A Mansfield mum and son have snatch national awards for speaking Zulu after they mistakenly entered the competition.
William Harwood, 10, and his mum Claire Oliver-Harwood, 45, of Paddock Close, Mansfield, entered the uTalk Junior Language Challenge after filling out the qualifying work thinking it was just a long piece of homework.
As part of the competition William, the year 6 Nottingham High School student had to learn three languages French, Japanese and finally Zulu.
He was given just three weeks to master Zulu as part of the final stage of a competition where he claimed second place.
William whose favourite thing to say in Zulu is thank you, said: “I did it to see how well I could do it.
“I liked Japanese the best because it was different, all of the words were unique and in Zulu the words were just complicated. It has given me the confidence to learn more.”
William and Claire won the awards at an all day event at the competition in London which is open to all primary school children in the UK, teachers and parents.
William was given seven weeks over the summer to learn Japanese.
Claire said: “He got involved without know it was a competition. We just thought it was really lengthy homework and it turns out that was the qualifying round.”
Claire also said how two of William competitors had featured on Channel 4’s Child Genius, were highly gifted children aged between 7 to 12 took part to find the UK’s annual child genius.
She said: “We didn’t actually think he would be as good as them but he did better.
“He had never done anything like that before and after the first round he was on the top of the board.”
uTalk’s founder and chairman Dick Howeson said: “Children have an amazing talent for languages if only they all knew it and we’re thrilled with William’s success.
“But the icing on the cake for us is Claire winning through in the parent/teacher round and learning Zulu alongside William, without even trying. What a double act.”
When Claire arrived at the Language Show Live in Islington, on Friday, October 13, she was surprised to learn she was entered into the parent and teacher language round taking home the first price.
William has said he is proud of her achievement.
She said: “I sat next to him and happened to pick it up.
“I probably wont use the language in the countries but Williams got a life time a head of him. He will be able to ask questions which is a good skill.
“I didn’t even know there was an parent/ teacher award.
“I decided to support William by sitting with him while he learnt it.
“It is not what I would normally do.
“I was competing against teachers who do this everyday surprisingly I won it.
“It shows that even at my age I have the ability to learn I am quite proud of myself.”