Languages are finding themselves having to compete for every bit of space in an ever expanding school curriculum.
But for one ten-year-old Birmingham pupil, the world is literally his oyster. Vidy Reddy, a pupil at The Blue Coat School in Edgbaston, has not contented himself with traditional modern languages such as French and German.
The youngster, whose family originate from India, has been aiming further afield as part of a national competition.
And Vidy, who lives in Harborne, has delighted family, friends and teachers alike by beating off stiff competition to win the national final of the Junior Language Challenge, held at Olympia, London.
Vidy is now looking forward to travelling to Africa with his family, which includes younger sister Naina, four, next summer after overcoming 37 other finalists shortlisted from more than 2,600 pupils across the country.
He is hoping to be able to visit the province of Zululand in South Africa after he was required to learn the Zulu language in just a month.
That was on top of being able to speak Dutch for the quarter final of the competition, and Vietnamese for the semi-finals against 300 other children.
The competition involved Vidy taking part in a nail-biting five rounds of computer-based language tests.
He says: “You were given the name of an object in Zulu and we had to click on the right name in English.
“I found it very difficult and I was very surprised to find out I had won.
Vidy, who also bagged a trophy, a medal and an impressive jewelled crown to add to his Africa trip, continued: “Winning the Junior Language Challenge has been an amazing experience.
“My family speak Hindi, but I don’t speak that much. Usually, I just speak English at home.”
For the quarter finals, he was given fully six months to master Dutch to a reasonable standard, while he had two months to learn Vietnamese - by computer - for the semis.
Now in its sixth year, the Junior Language Challenge aims to increase the profile of language learning in primary schools while also raising more than £6,000 for the Starfish Programme, which supplies educational materials to Africa.
Blue Coat School has fielded a national finalist in the competition for the third year running, but had to be content with winning third place on each previous occasion.
Deputy headmaster Richard Lynn said: “This is a tremendous achievement indeed from Vidy after our previous finalist twice came so close in the last couple of years.
“We’re thrilled by his success, which is a welcome endorsement of our innovative approach to language learning.”