Shane came in 3rd in The Junior Language Challenge in 2014 and is now in year 7 studying German and Latin. Below he talks about the wonderful JLC experience and why any teacher/parent should register their kids.
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.
In 2014 I entered the JLC for the second time, having got to the final the previous year. This time I knew what to expect and was really keen to get going. The first language was Italian, which was probably the language I found the easiest (of the 6 over 2 years). Two pupils from my school, Denmead, got through to the semi-final and we were told that we would be learning Japanese. I knew one word of Japanese already, but this wasn’t going to give me any advantage! It proved to be a very interesting language to learn, but when it came to the quick fire round this was the most challenging.
At the semi-final it all seemed much quicker than the previous year. During the final round, I managed to resist the temptation to look up at the leaderboard before I had finished. My dad compared the leaderboard to the football league tables when a goal is scored, a couple of wrong answers can move you up or down several places very quickly. I think it is much more nerve racking for the teachers and parents than the children as they watch this. I was lucky and saw my name stay in the top three so knew I had qualified for the final.
The language for the final was Somali and although it was completely new to me I knew that the app and website were the only tools I needed to get me through. The combination of games, the increasing level of difficulty and the chance to hear the words pronounced correctly meant it worked for me. I actually enjoyed practising, learning and the idea of preparing for a competition.
When it came to the final, I probably had my best round to date and as I was answering the last couple of questions my eyes were drawn towards the big screen displaying the leaderboard. I saw I was in third place with a few points to spare so knew I had done it. I felt speechless for a few minutes after we stopped, I had hoped to improve on the year before but didn’t think I would manage to get the bronze medal! My top tip for anyone getting through to the final is to stay calm and distract yourself with some great music and a good book. Calm parents and teachers (like mine) help you relax, just enjoy the experience and do the best you can.
To be part of a national competition is great and to gain third place is something I will always be very proud of. During the competition Franco (part of the JLC team) was always really kind and understanding with the children who needed help with their equipment and his good humour made sure everyone attending felt relaxed. We were always made to feel proud of what we’d achieved.
If your school isn’t yet involved in the JLC then I suggest you ask your headteacher to sign you up. It raises money for a great cause, introduces a fun and easy way to start learning different languages (some you might never have heard of before) and gives you a chance to compete against school mates and then possibly children from other schools if you are lucky enough to get through to the next round.
On Friday 16th October, our 33 Junior Language Challenge finalists came to London to battle it out to win the trophy. The children have learnt three languages during the course of the competition, with Portuguese being the first language, moving onto Mandarin for the semi-finals and Arabic being chosen as the final language.
All three heats at the final were extremely close, with several children having nearly perfect scores! Once all three were completed we paused for a lunch break, where a second competition took place… This year we decided to give the parents and teachers a chance to experience the JLC for themselves, and to see how they got on with the tricky Arabic language. This was as tense as the children’s rounds (with the parents obviously feeling pressure to do well!). It was clear to see many parents had been practising with their children, as some of the scores were amazing – congratulations to Sarah, who did brilliantly and definitely earned the bottle of champagne she took home with her!
The final round for the children got away and the top five places were constantly changing. Our resident evil genius, Franco, added to the suspense by keeping the top two scores a secret, so the winner wouldn’t be known right until the end. We were extremely lucky this year to have the winner of Channel 4’s Child Genius, Thomas Frith, to announce the winner of the JLC 2015….
Congratulations to Tudor Mendel-Idowu, the winner of this year’s Junior Language Challenge! Tudor gained over 300 points during the final round and won the top prize of a family trip to Malawi. This gives Tudor and his family the opportunity to see the excellent work that our charity, onebillion does there. Tudor, who like Thomas has been on Child Genius, has entered the Junior Language Challenge three times, coming third in 2013. “I’m very proud,” he told us afterwards. “All the hard work has paid off, because it’s been quite a long time! My favourite language this time was Mandarin, because I enjoyed the way it related to other languages I’d learnt before.”
Tudor’s prize was awarded by 12-year-old Thomas, who knows exactly how he feels after winning Child Genius earlier this year. Thomas also presented a cheque for £5,545 to Andrew Ashe from our charity, onebillion. The money will go towards the development of a solar-powered projector for teachers to use in primary schools in Malawi.
Our runners up this year also did amazingly in the final, with Aalaya Sanjeeva who came second and Isobel Eason who was just behind in third. The final was an excellent example of how brilliant all the children who took part in the JLC are at picking up languages – and also of the importance of perseverance; our top three had all taken part in the JLC in previous years. Every one of the 33 children that made it to the final should be so proud; you were all incredible! So thank you to: Olivia, Severin, Benjamin, Andrey, Gavin, Farah, Ritisha, Leyah, Saskia, Isobel, Aalaya, Nithya, Cristina, Cassandra, Anais, Isabella, Laura, Jamie, Reuben, Lydia, Aurelio, Rona, Ethan, Abigail, Monisha, Ben, Benitto, Grace L, Grace B, Louis, Sumayyah, Emma and Tudor, for taking part and putting so much effort into the JLC!
If you would like to know more about the Junior Language Challenge and how to take part in 2016, please sign up to our mailing list on the JLC website; you can also find out more about the JLC there too, or email us with any questions.
In the words of our brilliant guest, Thomas: “Languages are really important, they’re fun, they stretch your mind and let you talk to other people, which I feel is polite, rather than expecting everyone else to learn English.” We couldn’t agree more.
The JLC will return in March 2016 and we hope it’ll be bigger and better than ever!
As you may know, EuroTalk is a proud supporter of onebillion, a non-profit organisation working to transform education for one billion children in developing countries. You may even have used their maths apps with your child (if you haven’t discovered them yet, they’re on the App Store). To find out more about onebillion’s fantastic work, and how far they’ve already come, read on…
Zahira is a six-year-old Malawian child. As a young girl in Malawi, she only has a 50% chance of finishing primary school, and a 50% chance of being married off before she’s 18. In this short TED talk by onebillion’s co-founder Jamie, he explains how our oneclass project is helping to change her future. onebillion’s educational apps are being used in schools all across Malawi, to provide accessible and effective maths and literacy learning to primary school children. This time a year ago, we had a oneclass centre in two schools in Lilongwe. Today, we have the funding to open almost a hundred new centres in schools all over the country, and bring transformational education to another 30,000 children over the coming three years. This talk was given by Jamie at TEDxYouth in Lilongwe last year: watch it to find out more about onebillion’s project and where we’re headed.
For more information, visit onebillion’s website.
There’s also still time to enter the Junior Language Challenge, our annual competition for primary school children in the UK, which has already raised over £5,000 for onebillion. We’d love to make it £6,000 (or more)!
If you’re a regular follower, you’ll have heard us talk in past years about the Junior Language Challenge, our annual competition for primary school children across the UK. This year’s challenge is now underway, and here’s why we want every child who’ll be aged 10 and under on 1st September 2015 to join in:
1. It makes languages fun
All parents and teachers know that children learn best when they’re enjoying themselves (as we all do – not just children!). So the JLC uses games and the competition element to make languages fun. We want every child who takes part in the JLC to come away from it with a new love of languages, and eager to continue with them as they move on to secondary school.
2. It introduces children to languages they’ve never heard of
Last year, children taking part in the competition learnt Italian, Japanese and Somali. This year, they’ll be starting with Portuguese. We like to offer exciting, different languages – because once a child knows they can learn Chichewa, suddenly French and Spanish won’t seem so daunting. And it encourages them to learn about other cultures and countries, some of which they may never have heard of before.
3. It doesn’t take up loads of teacher or parent time
We know teachers and parents are busy people. That’s why the JLC is designed to be as easy as possible to set up. We’ve even created this letter to parents, which explains what it’s all about. Everything’s done online, so once you’ve got them registered, children can login on any computer and keep learning. Our system records all the scores, so the only thing we need from the grown-ups once they’re up and running is encouragement!
4. It’s for charity
The JLC doesn’t just benefit the children who take part; it also raises money for our charity, onebillion. They’re doing fantastic work creating apps to transform the education of one billion children in developing countries, and we’re proud to support them. Each child who enters the competition pays a £5 entry fee, all of which is donated to the organisation.
5. There are some great prizes on offer
The JLC champion wins a once-in-a-lifetime family holiday to Africa (our 2013 winner, Ella, wrote us this fantastic report about her trip to Malawi). There are also prizes for the runners-up – in previous years these have included iPods and cameras – and goodie bags for everyone who makes it through to round 2 and beyond, including t-shirts, pens, and other treats, as well as discounts on EuroTalk software for the children and their schools.
Registration is open now for school groups and individuals. Teachers can register their school for free, to take a look and try out the games before deciding whether to sign up any pupils.
And if you know anyone else who might be interested, please spread the word!
Good luck to everyone taking part this year. Or should we say Boa sorte 🙂
Today we’re very excited to share a presentation from Ella Whittingham, from West Bridgford in Nottingham, who won the Junior Language Challenge in 2013. Ella and her family have just got back from her prize trip to Malawi, and we’re really glad to hear that they had a fantastic time! Read on to see what they got up to, and what this year’s champion, Yash, has to look forward to…
By the way, if you’d like to be kept informed about the Junior Language Challenge 2015, which will start in March, you can sign up to our mailing list on the JLC website. And to learn more about the work of onebillion at Ngwenya and other schools in Malawi, find them at onebillion.org.uk.
Click on any of the slides to see a bigger version.