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12 July 2017

Cambridge school students win Cambridge University Press story competition

Ten teenagers from secondary schools in Cambridgeshire have been announced as the winners of Cambridge University Press’s ‘The Future Writes’ story competition.

The winning authors attended a celebratory gathering at the Press’s Head Quarters in Cambridge yesterday (Tuesday, 11 July) where they were presented with a booklet containing the short stories as well as a winner’s certificate.

The competition asked teenagers from local schools in Cambridgeshire to write a short story inspired by the Cambridge Experience Readers series; a series of short stories designed for teen English Language Learners. Over 60 entries were received from pupils aged 10-16 with the students’ first languages varying from English to Swahili and Kabyle, and topics ranging from meerkats and unicorns to war and haunted houses. Stories were judged by a panel of staff members from the Press.

Laura Sigsworth, Product Marketing Manager, at Cambridge University Press said: ‘We had a really difficult job choosing our ten winners. I think we were all overwhelmed by the quality and depth of the stories, and we laughed and cried in equal measure while reading them.’


Winning authors from schools in Cambridgeshire

The Press’s Language and Research team will use the stories to add to the Cambridge English Corpus; a multi-billion-word database of written and spoken English that helps linguists study the English Language.

An initial analysis has revealed some interesting insights into the creative minds of the next generation. It appears that the secondary school students are slightly more intrigued by destruction, horror and the unexpected than they are by the happily ever after. The most common categories included body parts (eyes, mouth, blood), sound (thud, rumbling, rustle), fear and shock (terror, panic, petrified) and damage (ripped, mangled, shriveled). However, not all of the stories were laden with suspense, other stories explored the life of a meerkat, teenage love and unicorns. 

Olivia Goodman, Language Research Project Manager, at Cambridge University Press said: ‘Reading through the stories, we were taken on a journey of fear, laughter and tears. Their imagination and talent for writing was inspiring and it was an honour to get to read them all.

‘In order to create course books for teenage learners, we need to know how teenagers typically use language and what interests them, so analysis of these stories will contribute greatly to the study of how English is changing and being used by the next generation.’

These insights will be used to inform the writing syllabus of future teen courses in terms of the topics and language choices.

To read the stories from our winning authors, click here


For further information, please contact Katie Phoenix 

Notes to editors: 
1. About Cambridge University Press

Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University's mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. Its extensive peer-reviewed publishing lists comprise 50,000 titles covering academic research and professional development, as well as school-level education and English language teaching. Playing a leading role in today's international marketplace, Cambridge University Press has more than 50 offices around the globe, and it distributes its products to nearly every country in the world.

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