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Junior Language Challenge 2015 – The Final!

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!

Junior Language Challenge - for grown-ups!

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 Mendel-Idowu, Junior Language Challenge champion

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.

Child Genius winner Thomas Frith presents a cheque to Andrew Ashe from onebillion

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!

Junior Language Challenge finalists

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!


Learn Chinese? No problem for our Junior Language Challenge semi-finalists!

As a EuroTalk newbie, I had no idea what to expect when it came to the Junior Language Challenge. I have heard a lot of stories (all good, I promise) over the last couple of months on what to expect at the semi-finals. We did a few practice rounds here at the EuroTalk office and I thought we had all done pretty well at getting the hang of Chinese, considering how hard the body game was! However, after the first round at my first semi-final, I realised that we were actually all pretty awful.

For those of you who are also new to the Junior Language Challenge, it is an annual competition for children who are under 11 years old. It runs from March until October, where the final is held at Language Show Live, London Olympia. Over this period, the children participating learn three languages. This year we chose Portuguese, Chinese and Arabic, three very different and difficult languages to learn. However, the children did not appear to struggle at all; the scores were amazing across all the semi-finals, with children regularly scoring top marks in the games.

London North semi-final at Berkhamsted Prep School

There was a lovely atmosphere at the semi-finals I visited, and both hosting schools were fantastic at making everyone feel welcome (as well as providing us EuroTalkers with a fabulous lunch). The children, teachers and the parents were clearly buzzing with excitement and nerves. Every child put 100% effort into the games, even in the rounds which they made clear were not their favourites!

Even though it’s a competition, it was clear to see there were no hard feelings between the children. All were delighted to receive a goodie bag and a medal, and were eager to find out the final language. The whole thing was organised brilliantly by our marketing manager Liz, and couldn’t have happened without the support of all the schools, pupils, parents and teachers involved; so we thank you all for this! You have also helped us to raise nearly £6,000 for onebillion, who aim to bring education to some of the world’s poorest countries by developing apps. These apps are in the children’s native language and help them to learn maths, English and how to read. This money will help to continue onebillion’s amazing work in Malawi and change the lives of so many children.

The JLC is far from over yet! With the final less than 3 weeks away, on October 16th, the children now have the tough job of learning Arabic for their third language. The 33 finalists will go head to head at London Olympia, for the title of Junior Language Challenge champion 2015, in what promises to be a nail-biting competition. The winner will be going on a family holiday to Africa and we wish everyone taking part in the final the best of luck!

London North semi-final

Are you coming to Language Show Live this year? If so, please do come up to seminar room 3 on Friday morning to watch the JLC final – everyone’s welcome!



The Day I Met The Queen

On September 9th 2015 the Queen became Britain’s longest serving monarch – and I like to think she shares this reputation with me, as I am the longest serving employee of EuroTalk, having joined at the very beginning in the days when our only product was an interactive version of “Asterix the Gaul”.

My work here has even led me to her Majesty herself. In 2002 EuroTalk won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise and Innovation for the second time, so we were invited to send a deputation of three to Buckingham Palace to meet her. I was one of the three, along with Dick Howeson (our Chairman) and Peter Shoomakov, now Manager of the Production Department. It was also the very first day of the Congestion Charge in London, so after much discussion and aggravation we finally arrived by hired car, feeling very hot and bothered – not to mention worried about any protocol needing to be followed.

Gloria, Queen of EuroTalk

There were about 100 or so others and we were treated to a glass of wine and canapés before the Master of Ceremonies introduced us one by one. We had to form a line and present our invitation card to the MC, who handed it, with an introduction, to Her Majesty. She shook my hand and asked me what line of business EuroTalk is in, before handing it to Prince Philip for a further handshake.

I was impressed by the quality and youthfulness of the Queen’s skin. She looked so young and tiny against Prince Philip, who hadn’t aged quite so well.

When I started my reign at EuroTalk, because I could write shorthand, I was employed as secretary and personal assistant to Dick Howeson, our Chairman – a lovely man to work for. In addition to normal business life, he and I together showed our product at exhibitions, put the discs in jewel cases, added a small booklet at the front and a separate illustrated sheet at the back – an extremely fiddly job, I might add, which ended in very sore thumbs!

Since then I’ve created “bug reports”, done technical support, sold and demonstrated our resources into schools and other educational establishments, demonstrated at exhibitions and am currently running credit control, looking after our roof garden, and anything else required of me. These days I think my official designation is “General Dogsbody”. That’s what Dick tells me!




10 reasons to visit… London

I’m really excited about this one, London is my absolute favourite city and not only because it has been my lovely home for more than a year but because it’s truly one of the best places in the world.

Here are 10 reasons you should choose London as your next destination for a city break or a longer vacation.

1. The people and the vibe

I’ve put these two reasons together because I think they are related to one another. The first thing that made me have the warmest feelings for this great city is the kindness and friendliness of the people. When I first came here I thought it is very endearing that people here say ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’, ‘I apologise’ as often as they can, and that matters more than you’d think when you are in a city with 8 million other people.

I promised I’d be specific so let’s get down to actual locations of things to see in London. Now, I won’t bore you with Big Ben and the London Eye… If you’ve never been here before, I suggest reserving a day just for the Central London attractions so you can tick them off your list, ’cause, you know, #BigBenSelfie.

2. Richmond

When you get there you’ll be in a different world. Richmond Park, the largest of the capital’s eight Royal Parks and the biggest enclosed space in London, is home to the beautiful Isabella Plantation, Pembroke Lodge and herds of Red and Fallow deer.

The city centre is very beautiful as well – take a walk near the river, the bridge and on the high street. If you are lucky to be there on a sunny day, have a look at the local farmers market, the lovely boat restaurants and terraces along the river.

Richmond on Thames

3. Holland Park & Kyoto Garden

Holland Park is a district and a public park in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in central London. It has a reputation as an affluent and fashionable area, known for attractive large Victorian townhouses, and high-class shopping and restaurants. The park itself is very beautiful and quiet, with squirrels and peacocks walking around. Inside the park you can find the Kyoto Garden, which is a Japanese garden and can be described as an oasis of tranquility, where you can relax and watch the waterfalls and the rather large orange fish swimming in the pond.

4. Kensington Palace and Hyde Park

These two locations are close together so I reckon this would be the perfect place for spending a lovely relaxed day starting with brunch in one of Notting Hill Gate’s posh cafés and continuing with a walk to Kensington Palace and its amazingly beautiful gardens (no really, the Brits have a special talent when it comes to ridiculously good looking gardens). Passing this, you will find yourself in the biggest park in central London, Hyde Park.

5. Notting Hill Gate and Portobello market

Head to the famous Portobello Road Market for everything from antiques and vintage accessories to street food and fresh veg stalls. If you like walking around aimlessly in an unfamiliar area, I definitely recommend a walk on the streets of Notting Hill, to discover nice boutiques, cafés, restaurants and colourful houses. If you are there on the Sunday and Monday of the last weekend in August you can even take part in the famous carnival that takes place there.

6. Camden Town and Regent’s Park

Camden is renowned for its markets that date from even the 1970s, some of them. It used to be just a small food market serving the local community, but by 2013 all the foodstuff and produce stalls had gone, leaving only touristy stalls. In the vicinity there is the lovely Primrose Hill (also nice cafés in the area), where you can get a beautiful view of the city while sitting on the grass. Going south from there, you will reach Regent’s Park.

Primrose Hill, London

7. Theatreland

You can’t come to London and not check out a West End show. From the classic shows like Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera, to new hits like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, there’s something for everyone. It’s not cheap, but it’s the kind of thing you have to experience at least once in your life. Or if Shakespeare’s more your thing, and you’re in London between April and September, visit the Globe for an open-air performance (only £5 for a standing spot in the yard), and hope it doesn’t rain…

8. Greenwich

Notable for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time. It is located in South East London and is the home of the National Maritime Museum and University of Greenwich, which has very nice architecture and gardens that go till the Thames bank, and the chance of seeing a great sunset over the river are pretty high. If you feel active, take a walk into the Greenwich Park and go up the hill to get to the Royal Observatory where, besides the renowned Prime Meridian, you get to see a beautiful view over the city skyline.

9. Covent Garden Market

This is a great place especially around winter holidays. It is a covered market, very nicely decorated, with shops, cafés and restaurants. Almost always you’ll see street performers doing their act, some of which have proved to be quite impressive. During winter time you can get mulled wine and other hot drinks and food; during summer you can chill with a glass of wine or pint of beer at one of the outdoor terraces.

10. Thames South Bank

On a day with pleasant weather, take a walk on the river’s south bank, starting from the London Eye (Waterloo) and continuing along the river. There is a beautiful view of the buildings in The City, ships on the river, cafés and terraces. You will pass the Millennium Bridge that leads to St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern museum, London Bridge (you can stop for a snack or a meal at the Borough Market behind Southwark Cathedral), London Bridge City Pier (great spot for photos with the city in the background), London City Hall and finally get to the wonderful Tower Bridge which has recently opened an exhibition for its glass floor in the upper side of the bridge (the bit between the towers). This is a great experience, as you can see from the photo below.

Tower Bridge London glass floor

Before you come to London, don’t forget to install uTalk so you can properly order fish and chips and a pint of beer, or nonchalantly refer to the underground as ‘the tube’.




Junior Language Challenge 2014 – the final!

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…

EuroTalk Junior Language Challenge 2014

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.

EuroTalk Junior Language Challenge winners 2014

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!

EuroTalk Junior Language Challenge finalists 2014

See more photos from the JLC final.

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.

EuroTalk Junior Language Challenge Champion 2014

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.