Bilingual Joseph Marletta proved his French was tres bien by beating more than 61,000 other students to reach the final of the Routes Into Languages Spelling Bee.

Joseph, 12, from Ramsbury, had to make it through class, school and regional heats to get to the final, which will be held at the Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge tomorrow.

He said: “I’m really excited to be going to Cambridge. When I got through the first round of the regional final I was surprised because there were several people there and I thought they would be better than me but once I got through that I started to think I could win it.

“I love language and I think I’m quite good at spelling in English too.”

Joseph took some French lessons at primary school but only started to study the language properly when he started at St John’s School in Marlborough in September.

He also studies Latin and Spanish at school and his Sicilian dad, Giuseppe, speaks to him in Italian.

He has been given 200 French words to memorise and will compete with other youngsters spelling in their chosen languages to get the highest number of words correct in 60 seconds.

He said: “I’ve been doing a little bit with my mum every day and that’s been really helpful and now we’ve started doing one-minute tests like I will have to do on the day. I think I’ve started to pick up the words quite quickly.

“Mum did her degree in Russian so she is quite good with languages.”

The Spelling Bee, sponsored by the European Commission and Vocab Express, is the brainchild of Cambridge teacher Jane Driver and has been extended across England, Wales and Scotland by Routes Into Languages, a consortium of universities working with schools and colleges to encourage pupils to study languages.

Prizes will be presented after the final by the Deputy Mayor of Cambridge, Robert Dryden; John Evans and Angeliki Petrits of the European Commission; and Justin Sycamore of Vocab Express.