On the 25th of January, we were privileged to welcome a language analyst from GCHQ to Radley for two events. The first was a language taster session in Persian for Fifth and Sixth form linguists. We learned how this language, spoken by about 60 million people, changed when the Persians officially accepted Arabic script in order to be able to read the Qur'an, but how the younger generation of today is moving away from traditional Arabic loan words and towards the older Persian words and phrases. We also learnt how to engage at a basic level of conversation, how to talk about our families and pets, and how to write our names in Persian.
The main event, a talk about Careers in Languages, was attended by over 150 pupils from Radley, Bradfield, Uppingham and Harrow. Our guest explained to us how she ended up at GCHQ and how we could get involved. We were firstly briefed on the intricacies of how the intelligence services work and what her job as Language Analyst entails. We learned about how GCHQ protects the UK from terrorism, cyber threats, drugs and weapons of mass destruction and how, as a linguist, she not only translates intelligence from intercepted signals, but is also herself an intelligence analyst. At the end, she was asked questions on tensions with other countries, how to keep up with slang in a foreign language and how GCHQ encourages the government to promote languages in the UK.
We were honoured to have her visit us and we all greatly appreciated her insight into the world of intelligence gathering and how languages can open up career paths.
Report by George Medd, H Social and Will Goodman, E Social, Fifths