Havering schoolboy Tom Bouverie, 13, predicted ‘A’ in GCSE Russian - after teaching himself on YouTube!

Marshalls park school student Tom Bouverie is studying Russian

Marshalls park school student Tom Bouverie is studying Russian - Credit: Archant

Picking up a few books and logging on to YouTube, 11 year old Tom Bouverie decided he was going to learn Russian.

Tom's granddad was a master wartime linguist

Tom's granddad was a master wartime linguist - Credit: Archant

Less than two years later, aged just 13 he’s bagged what teachers predict will be an A Grade GCSE, an exam usually taken by people three years his senior, and is about to head to Moscow to celebrate.

Tom taught himself Russian using YouTube

Tom taught himself Russian using YouTube - Credit: Archant

Tom has no family ties to Russia and had never heard the language spoken before he picked up his first book. But his family history suggests that a flair for languages runs deep in the blood.

Tom’s grandfather, who died when he was a baby, was a master linguist who had a distinguished career in the RAF, beginning as a tail gunner in Wellington bombers and ending nearly 30 years later as a translator in Germany.

William Bouverie’s languages took him through the infamous battle of Monte Cassino where he acted as a translator between British officers and German POWs, and then to a Germany still behind the iron curtain where he intercepted messages passed between Russian nuclear bombers.


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By the time he died in 2001, he spoke German, Italian, Polish, Czech and Belgian fluently, but his main theme was Russian.

The reasons his grandson gave for embarking on the mammoth task of learning Russian were simple: “I just really liked the sound of it.

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“It wasn’t really that difficult,” he said. “I got a couple of books and watched some films and just practised. It was easy.”

A quiet boy by nature, Tom played down the scale of what he was attempting. “Not a lot of people knew about it,” said his school teacher, Carolyne Cusack. “By the time the languages department and I found out about it, he was already talking about his exams. It was amazing.”

Tom leaves this week for Moscow with his mother Marian, where the two plan to see the sites and do some shopping. The chances are it will be him who leads the way on the trip.

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