On Friday 17th October, 31 young linguists from all over the country came to London for the final of our national competition for primary schools, the Junior Language Challenge. Since March, they’d learnt Italian for the first round, Japanese for the semi-finals and they’d spent the last few weeks studying the African language of Somali in preparation for the final.
As the final got underway, one thing became very clear – it was going to be close! We started with three tense heats, from which only the top 12 overall would gain a place in the final round. After a break for lunch (and a spot of African drumming to let out the tension), the top 12 returned to the iPads for the final showdown…
Congratulations to our champion, Yash Suribhatla, who put in an amazing performance to win the top prize of a family trip to Malawi. While he’s there, Yash will have the opportunity to see the work being done by our charity onebillion. Well done also to our runners-up, Nathan Govender from Surrey and Shane Bowden from London.
But we don’t want anyone to feel disappointed – with over 1,100 children registering for the JLC back in March, to reach the top 31 in the country is an absolutely amazing achievement and one we hope all our finalists will be very proud of. So we’d like also to say a huge congratulations to all our superstars, not only Yash, Nathan and Shane but also Christian, Nicole, Olivier, Edward, Christopher, Maciej, Rosie, Grace, Tara, Nithya, Aalaya, Matthew E, Isobel E, Matthew W, Tudor, Aryam, Georgia, Ben, Gregor, Cara, Eleanor, Isobel P, Jennifer, Sharvari, Harry, Saarah, Maryam and Theo!
And finally, a few words from our champion
Hello, my name is Yash Suribhatla and I attend Fairfield Preparatory School in Loughborough. I won the EuroTalk JLC final, 2014. This once in a life-time experience really interested me in learning new languages and I would describe it as one of the best learning opportunities I have ever had, which will remain with me for the rest of my life. I was glad to see all my hard work, trials and tribulations and occasional tears pay off in the very end. Realising that I had won was mind-blowing. What made it even more special was that I had never won such a big trophy in my life!
I felt so frightened as I entered my name at the start of the grand final. Going behind on points in the first three rounds, made me determined to fight back in the next few rounds. Luckily, I managed to pull it off and maintain my lead until the end. I was truly speechless when I won and managed to smile at my teacher, who smiled back in delight.
Well done, Yash!
If you’d like to know more about the Junior Language Challenge and how to take part in 2015, you can sign up to our mailing list on the JLC website, where there’s also more information on what the competition is all about. Or you can email us with any questions.
Back in March, over 1,100 primary school children from around the UK joined our annual competition, the Junior Language Challenge, learning Italian online. Over the next three months, they scored points in the language games, and then in June the top scorers from each region of the country progressed to the second round.
Not wanting to make it too easy, for their next challenge we asked them to learn the notoriously tricky language of Japanese. Impossible, you might say – how can you expect children under 11 to learn such a difficult language?
As we discovered this week, it’s not impossible at all. Over the last ten days, we’ve been travelling around the country for the regional semi-finals, and have been seriously impressed with what we’ve seen. All the children had clearly worked really hard, and we had several very tense contests in the race to grab a place in the final. There were some familiar faces, and some first-time competitors, and everyone gave it their all. So on behalf of EuroTalk, thank you to all the teachers, parents and most importantly, the children for joining in so enthusiastically.
The competition also raised nearly £6,000 for a brilliant organisation called onebillion, who create apps to teach children in developing countries basic maths and reading, giving them valuable learning opportunities that we often take for granted here in the UK. onebillion were recently featured by BBC Click, and their report gives you a taster of the fantastic work they’re doing in Malawi.
But what about our finalists? They’re not finished yet. For their third and final language, they’ll be learning the African language of Somali, ready for the grand final in London next month, where they’ll compete for the title of Junior Language Challenge Champion 2014, and a family holiday to Africa.
We hope that everyone who’s taken part in the JLC this year, whether you’re continuing on to the final or not, really enjoyed it. Now you know that you can learn any language, even difficult ones, the sky’s the limit!
And to our finalists… see you next month
Nine year old Ben Fawcett will be cutting short his family holiday in Disneyworld to take part in this month’s Junior Language Challenge final.
Ben, who is the first pupil from Oakwood School near Chichester to get through to the final, had been due to be in Florida when the final of EuroTalk’s JLC takes place on October 21st.
His mum, Anna, says: “The timing couldn’t have been worse for us. We’re taking the children to Disneyworld for two weeks but Ben and I are only going for one week because the final is in the middle of our planned holiday.
“He’s disappointed but we gave him the choice and he said, ‘No Mummy, I’ve come this far – I want to do it,’ and I’m happy to fly back with him. But the timing couldn’t have been worse. We arrive back the day before the competition so he’ll probably be jet-lagged…”
Holiday plans apart, entering the competition has been a good thing for the Fawcetts.
Anna adds: “Children from Oakwood have made it through to the semi-finals before but not to the finals so Ben’s as proud as a peacock! It’s been really good for his confidence not just with languages but generally. He’s thoroughly enjoyed the competition and I’ve hardly had to remind him to look at the games.”
Having picked up some of the basics of Portuguese and Kazakh in the first two rounds of the competition, Ben is now one of around 40 finalists trying to get to grips with the last JLC language, Luganda.
Anna adds: “I’m obviously extremely proud of him but it’s completely nerve-wracking as well!”
We’re looking forward to seeing Ben and Anna at the final, which will be held at the Language Show next Friday.
Ben’s even made the local paper!
Are there any other semi-finalists out there who’d like to share their JLC story?