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Ivybridge Community College

Ivybridge Community College

Ivybridge Community College

Opportunities Achieved through Learning Languages

On Thursday, 13 February we were hugely fortunate to welcome Mary-Jess Leaverland to Ivybridge Community College, who gave an inspirational talk to our Year 8 students.

Mary-Jess gave an intriguing account of her journey from humble beginnings in Gloucester to becoming an international classical singing sensation and how her mottos of ‘always having more than one string to your bow’ and ‘seizing every opportunity’ were her foundations for success.

Having always wanted to be a singer, Mary-Jess decided that languages were going to be her ‘second string’ and she grabbed the opportunity to study Mandarin Chinese when it was offered as an extra-curricular GCSE at school.  Mary-Jess then continued to study Mandarin Chinese alongside Music at Sheffield University and whilst in China, on her year abroad, she gained a place on the Chinese version of The X Factor, a television show with an audience of 70 million people!  The audience loved Mary-Jess and she eventually won the whole competition.  

With this profile, Mary-Jess has gone on to sing for huge crowds for occasions such as the FA Cup Final as well as singing the vocals for the Downton Abbey theme tune. Through her unique selling point of beautiful singing with the ability to speak Mandarin Chinese, Mary-Jess is often called on to deliver shows in a range of locations that appeal to a Mandarin Chinese speaking audience.  The day after her visit she was travelling to Australia to join a cruise ship for such a show.  

Jenni Bindon, Lead Practitioner for MFL said, “Our students were fascinated by Mary-Jess, her story and her extremely impressive ability to speak a very different language.  Mary-Jess delivered a vitally important message to our students about making the most of every chance you are given as well as the breadth of opportunities learning a language can bring you, opportunities you can’t even imagine.”