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!
We’re well settled into the new year and we’re all full of hopes and dreams for the next 12 months – learning a new language, getting fit, changing our job, travelling more. Most likely in the first week of the year you were super pumped, ready to drop anything to stick to your main goal(s).
By the time the second week came however, you kind of settled in, relaxed the rules a bit and got back to some of your old habits. When January’s over, your goal will be completely forgotten like it was never there and you’re going to be thinking ‘how silly of me to think that I could learn Spanish’.
That can be one of the ways the future looks. Let’s take a different turn. Lets push through the phase when we want to give up and see what happens. The other road is familiar but wouldn’t it be nice to see what else can happen? What if you did learn Spanish this year? You could read books in Spanish, and you could talk to other Spanish speakers, and on your next holiday in Spain you could strike up a conversation with a stranger and end up making new friends.
Studies have shown that the human brain tends to value immediate rewards more than future rewards. When you set a goal or a resolution you are in fact making plans for your future self and it ‘s easy to imagine how your life can look. But, when the time comes that you actively pursue that goal most people choose immediate gratification and opt to do what they feel like in the moment.
Now that we understand how our mind works, it’s time to find ways to stop this from happening.
- Start slowly and build a ritual. Set yourself to practice for half an hour a day – that’s not too much to ask right? Offer yourself a reward after – if you’re learning a language with uTalk, the reward comes in the form of earning points and we all like to build up to a nice score, right?
- Put aside some of your other tasks. Obviously not work or eating but if you usually browse the Internet while commuting why not replace that with your main goal?
- Keep your eyes on the prize – never lose sight of your motivation. Look at pictures of beautiful Spanish landscapes and imagine yourself having a chat with the locals, or listen to Spanish songs and try to understand the lyrics.
I hope this helps you push through the temptation of giving up and will ultimately get you to your goal. And don’t worry about making mistakes; the only person who loses is the one that gives up, so no matter how slow you are going, it’s still better than if you weren’t doing anything.
And if your goal is to learn a language (or twelve…), there’s still time to join the uTalk Challenge!
I don’t know about you, but I love New Year’s Eve. Not because of all the parties (twelve months ago I saw in the new year at home with a cup of tea, because I’m that cool), but because it’s a great time to set some new goals.
Of course, you can set goals any time, but there’s something special about the fresh start that comes with a new year. It’s like the first page of a brand new notebook; any previous failed attempts or mistakes are erased and you can start over with a clear target in mind.
Yesterday the British Council, supported by actor Larry Lamb, launched a #LearnALanguage campaign, which aims to get Brits learning a language in 2016.
And over 200 people will be doing just that with our free uTalk challenge, which starts tomorrow – learning everything from French to Wolof (there’s still time to join, by the way…).
But why should you learn a language this new year? Here are my top 4 reasons:
Everyone likes making new friends, and it’s a lot easier to do that if you speak the same language. Sometimes all it can take is one word to break the ice, so even if all you know is ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ or ‘where is the toilet?’ – hey, it’s a start. (And if you can speak a bit of Xhosa or Korean, it’s a great way to show off at parties and instantly become the coolest person in the room.)
The New Year is a time for new opportunities… and learning a language brings you so many. Travel the world. Get a new job. Meet the love of your life. As Larry Lamb says in this video, his enjoyment of languages directly led to his 40-year career as an actor – who knows where it could take you?
It’s good for your brain
A not so nice side effect of the New Year celebrations is the reminder that we’re a year older and time is passing far too terrifyingly quickly. So let’s grab the chance to help out our poor ageing brains; research has shown that bilingual people have better memories and are more successful at multitasking, and speaking a second language can delay the onset of dementia.
And sometimes, that’s the only reason you need. Discovering a new language and culture is one of the most fascinating and rewarding things you can do, and there really is nothing like the buzz you get the first time you have a conversation with someone – however basic – and the two of you understand each other.
So, which language will you learn in 2016?
Happy New Year everyone!
Quit smoking. Learn Welsh. Finally finish writing that book – and actually let someone read it. Learn Thai. Spend more time sailing. Learn Mandarin. Walk the street map of London. Learn Turkish. Achieve a freestanding handstand and a scorpion/needle stretch (whatever that is). Learn Argentinian Spanish.
These are just a few of the New Year’s resolutions we’ve been setting ourselves in the EuroTalk office, having just realised 2016 has crept up on us and is suddenly, terrifyingly close. And you may have noticed a bit of a language theme…
Introducing the uTalk challenge 2016 – learn a language for free this New Year
That’s because this January, we’ll be taking on the uTalk challenge 2016, using our uTalk app to learn as much as we can of our chosen language before 31st January. Last year Nat stormed to victory in our first uTalk challenge, completing the app in Icelandic before most of us had even mastered ‘hello’… but we’re hoping for a closer contest this time around. And failing that, our back-up plan is to steal her iPad.
How to join the uTalk challenge
But we don’t want to do it alone! So if you’re an iOS user*, and you’d like to finally start learning that language you’ve been talking about for ages, now’s your chance. And even better, the uTalk challenge is completely FREE. All you need to do is sign up at eurotalk.com/utalkchallenge, and on January 1st we’ll send you over a code to unlock the Essentials upgrade (worth £7.99) for your chosen language. Then it’s over to you…
We’ll check in with you each week by email to see how you’re doing and update the online leaderboard, so you can see how your score compares to everyone else’s. AND if you complete the Essentials by the end of January, we’ll give you another language to learn in February, and so on. So if you’re really determined, you could learn 12 new languages in 2016. Now that’s a pretty cool New Year’s resolution.
*Unfortunately the uTalk app is only available on iOS, we’re really sorry! But we don’t want anyone to miss out, so if you’re not an iOS-er and you’d like to take part, drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see if we can work out an alternative for you.
Spread the word
Challenges are a lot more fun if you’ve got company, so please help us spread the word to friends and family using the link eurotalk.com/utalkchallenge and on social media, using #uTalkChallenge. And for regular video updates from the EuroTalk team, in which we’ll attempt to demonstrate how much we’ve learnt, come and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Some of last year’s uTalk Challengers (who we hope will join us again this year!)…
Ingrid, learning Serbian
I’ve really enjoyed doing the challenge. Serbian is a language I’ve wanted to get to grips with for a long time for quite a bizarre reason (it involves a love of the Eurovision Song Contest!) but I haven’t really known where to start.
Patricia, learning Icelandic
The uTalk app is a whole lot of fun, filled with useful words and phrases. I particularly enjoyed repeating the words and phrases after the native speakers and then hearing my own voice. What a great tool to gain confidence and improve pronunciation!
Jacqui, learning Croatian
After a month, I’ve made great progress. I haven’t earned maximum points (I’m on just over 4000), but I have managed to learn a lot more than I thought I would, even waking up some mornings with various phrases springing to mind!
And here’s how the EuroTalkers got on…
So… who’s up for the challenge?