Isobel Eason from Hartlepool qualified for the Junior Language Challenge final two years in a row, and came third last year, with her proud family cheering her on. Here her mum Vickie shares their experience of the competition…
If you’re a parent or teacher of children aged 10 and under in the UK, visit juniorlanguagechallenge.com to find out more about our annual competition, which is now open! Entry costs just £5, which is all donated to our fantastic charity, onebillion.
The Junior Language Challenge has been an amazing experience from start to finish. My daughter Isobel thoroughly embraced the challenges and new languages that it offered.
Isobel qualified for the final in each of the last two years. The first year was a daunting experience but being one of the youngest to qualify that year did not put her off. As a family we all learnt along with her, even creating songs and rhymes to help her learn some of the trickier phrases. We sometimes still all sing them on the way to school on a morning whenever something reminds us of the languages she studied. She did really well in the final that year, finishing just outside the top 15.
The following year was a different story for Isobel. We noticed a real difference in the way she approached learning the new languages and every spare minute she had she spent practising. Mandarin has to have been one of her favorites. The final was very different as we all knew what to expect. I was dreading the leaderboard the most, it’s horrible to see the children moving up and down and I don’t know how Isobel managed to block it out. We were overjoyed when she made the final round, though we spent the entire final on the edge of our seats! I was so nervous for her but she was amazing, and her face when she had finished and looked at the scoreboard was an absolute joy. She had finished third! All of her hard work and determination had paid off.
I was amazed throughout at how quickly she picked up the different languages. The JLC and their fantastic team of people has provided Isobel with an invaluable experience, learning six languages over the last two years whilst also supporting the very worthy onebillion charity. It’s been an adventure that none of us will ever forget and one that we can’t recommend highly enough.
In today’s blog post, father and son Joseph and Reuben share with us their JLC story and how learning made fun got them counting the days until this year’s competition.
If you’re a parent or teacher of children aged 10 and under in the UK, visit juniorlanguagechallenge.com to find out more about our annual competition, which opens on Friday 11th March.
Reuben was just 6 and in Year 2 when a teacher with a passion for languages opened the JLC to this year group for the 1st time. Reuben got stuck in to learning Spanish, then Greek, breezed past most of the school including the Y6s and in to the East-Midlands’ semi-final. He came 4th. This was an inspiration to the other children that left them waiting for the next JLC. His success justified an early introduction of Abbey Road children to the exciting challenge of learning a new language. The sheer passion and excitement with which he approached the languages, the colourful child-friendly software and the brain-teasing range of games that increased in difficulty as his competence increased and introduced the language as it might be used in every-day life, kept him glued to learning, so much so that he was at it during every waking moment. For once, we parents did not have to battle with him to get off his game console or the iPad! Most importantly he remains as enthusiastic and motivated several challenges on.
Reuben waited eagerly for his next shot at the JLC in Year 3. While the 1st round was a doddle for him, he crashed ignominiously out of the semi-final, learning an important life lesson, that there is no substitute for hard work. Rather than letting this get him down, he worked very hard and consistently in Year 4, at gaining a working knowledge of Portuguese, then Mandarin and qualified for the final in London. He was very excited and enthused by his success and immersed himself in learning Arabic for this. The fierce competition did not deter him but rather spurred him on and he came 13th after a hard fought set of heats.
Having enjoyed himself so much and coming within a hair-breadth of winning, he continues his JLC journey. He cannot wait for this year’s challenge to begin. He is counting the days!
I started the Junior Language Challenge in Year 2 at the age of 6 and have taken the Challenge every year since then. It is an amazing experience that I look forward to.
I love languages and was extremely interested in participating. I loved the way the games were laid out. This makes them really easy to understand and play and most importantly, it makes the whole experience really fun. No matter how hard the language is or may seem, EuroTalk makes it easy to learn and understand.
JLC combines two extremely important things in life, having lots of fun and language learning. It’s definitely not boring; it’s one of the best and most exciting experiences you can have. I love the competition it creates; the urge to win in all competitors is great. One of the things I love about the JLC is how you can share the massive excitement and competitiveness with other people who are also in the challenge. I strained to be at the top of the scoreboard, competing with my friends Adam and Farah Akbar and many others.
Getting to the semi-final and final is a special feeling I will never forget. The feeling that you’re among the best of the massive amount of participants is simply amazing. The best thing is, the entrance fee is only £5 and it goes to an absolutely wonderful cause, a non-profit organisation called onebillion, whose sole aim and cause is to give the children in Malawi a better education and a much brighter future.
I hope that more people can join the Junior Language Challenge and share this brilliant experience. I love the Junior Language Challenge and I will never forget it. JLC 2016 is a few mere days away!
Jenny’s daughter Grace was a finalist in the 2015 Junior Language Challenge – and one of the stars of our video from the day! In today’s blog post, Jenny tells us about her experience of the competition as a mum, and what taking part in the JLC has meant to Grace.
I was amazed by the commitment she put into the challenge, especially as she was only 7 at the time. She practised daily with her Daddy and it became a really fun part of the day. Even though she was ‘learning’, she didn’t/doesn’t class it in the same way as homework.
Grace got through to the semi-finals in Cambridge. She was so very nervous and had no idea what to expect (similarly to myself!). She completed the first round and got through to the final 12. It was this round I sat in to watch, oh my goodness… It was nerve wrecking watching the scores go up and down. Unfortunately Grace didn’t make it through to the final that year. She wasn’t too downbeat about it and declared she would do better next time! I wasn’t sure my nerves could stand another one!
March 2015 came and Grace started the challenge again. Proudly, she got through to the semi-finals and this time she came top in the final 12, so she was through to the Grand Final at Olympia! To us, this was an amazing achievement and we were so proud.
On the day she made it through to the last round but only came 10th. Although, only 10th at the age of 8 from thousands of entrants is fairly epic for us all. The JLC team were fabulous throughout the trials, very reassuring and putting the children at ease.
Grace is determined to make the top three in the finals this autumn!
I cannot speak highly enough of the JLC and would thoroughly recommend all parents let their child experience this modern way of learning a language. It is a fun and challenging game with only positive results. So, as we commence the new challenge with Romanian, Grace reiterates her desire to make the Grand Final! Fingers crossed!
Good luck to Grace and everyone who takes part in this year’s JLC, which will launch on March 11th and is open to children aged 10 and under across the UK. Entry costs just £5 and is donated to our charity onebillion. The first of our three languages this year will be Romanian!
Valentine’s Day is a moment we should all pause our busy lives to celebrate love and the important people in our lives with whom we share special moments – not only lovers but also friends or family.
Obviously a popular holiday on the American continent, followed by Western Europe and in the last years Eastern Europe, the world’s interest towards the popular celebration of love has been rising.
Although Valentine’s Day is internationally celebrated on 14th February, some cultures have their own version of it around the year.
1. Dragobete – Romania
Romanians celebrate Dragobete on the 24th of February, a day that not only celebrates love but also the fact that spring is getting close. In old times it was an occasion for the young girls and boys to get together and play different games, dance and confess their love for each other.
2. Dia dos Namorados – Brazil
Brazilians celebrate Dia dos Namorados on 12th June, which is the day before Saint Anthony’s day (the marriage saint). One of the reasons Brazilians choose to celebrate love on this day is that traditional Valentine’s Day on February 14th would coincide with the Carnival celebration, which takes place in February and some of March. Dia dos Namorados is a day when people exchange little gifts, like sweets and flowers and lovers enjoy a romantic dinner or night out.
3. Qi xi – China
The Chinese version of Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the seventh night of the seventh month (also called Double Seven festival) of the Chinese lunar calendar – that is sometime in August. Qi xi (pronounced chee – she) is nowadays celebrated similarly to other cultures by offering flowers and chocolates to the loved ones as well as couples spending a romantic day together.
4. Valentine’s Day and White Day – Japan
Japanese culture celebrates love on the same day as Valentine’s Day but instead of men offering gifts to women, it’s the other way around. Then one month later, on 14th March on White Day, it’s the men’s turn to reciprocate the gifts. The difference is that Valentine’s Day chocolates are a symbol of a man’s popularity, but the ones on White Day are only for couples or romantically involved people. Black Day (on April 14th) however is a day when the singles, or the people that haven’t received any gifts on any of the holidays, gather to “commiserate”, often wearing black, eating black coloured food and complaining about their love life.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day – or maybe you don’t celebrate at all – we believe love is a great feeling that we should hold onto every day and show our loved ones how much they mean to us.
Download our app uTalk – Learn a Language to find out how to say “I love you” in 130 languages.
In the spirit of ‘Linguists Anonymous’, I am Felicity Jones, 45, and I am mildly addicted to learning other languages. I speak French, German, Spanish, Italian and some Mandarin. I have used uTalk to learn some Danish, and my January challenge is Greek.
Even as a child I would listen under the bed cover to a transistor radio beaming in words I could not understand from across Europe when I was meant to be asleep, and tried to make sense of the country names on foreign stamps. I then had the deeply unusual benefit of inspirational language teachers at school. Now, I travel a lot for my work and for fun, and as I always need to know how to say I am vegetarian – in Korean gogi bego is the most effective way to be clear about that – I have an excuse to learn at least a few words. Being able to say ‘thank you’ or ‘good morning’ makes travelling much more human.
What would I say to someone thinking about learning another language? Stop thinking about it and get going! The longer you think about it, the bigger the mountain seems. And don’t be afraid to communicate right from the off, even if you can only say hello or thank you – that’s why I love uTalk as it’s not just flat lists of words; you have to think, hear, speak even with your first words. And the Recall is an evil but effective section, the most like real life you can get to by yourself.
The most inspiring approach I have ever seen is Fluent in 3 Months by Benny Lewis. He uses ‘language hacks’ to accelerate confidence to SPEAK, an approach which transformed him from someone who thought they could not learn languages after school to fluency in seven languages and dabbling in more. Think like a child, open your ears, let yourself sound silly when you shape your mouth to make an unfamiliar sounds, ask someone how you say something in their language. Listen to the radio, read a children’s book, look at the signs in the airport and in shops, skype with native speakers and exchange your skills, go to a bar. Above all, speaking another language is only ever about connecting with someone else, with a different culture, a different way of being, however fleetingly and enjoying it. And if you have any doubt, apparently language learning stimulates the same part of the brain as other pleasurable activity!