Young language learners prepare for grand final of EuroTalk Junior Language Challenge

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They’ve struggled with Spanish, grappled with Greek, and now 33 young language learners from across the UK are gathering in London to face their final challenge: Chichewa, the language of Malawi.

Junior Language Challenge

The children will play games in Chichewa on iPads at the final

Anyone can, and everyone should have a go at learning a foreign language, because you just don't know how useful it will be, and where it will take you in the future.

The young linguists are taking part in the final of national competition, the EuroTalk Junior Language Challenge, which will be held at Language Show Live on 18th October. And they’ll be joined by a very special guest: Martha Payne of NeverSeconds, who’ll be sharing her inspirational story and awarding prizes to the competitors.

Over the last eight months, the children have learnt three new languages, using EuroTalk’s interactive language software, and finishing with the African language of Chichewa. They have taken on both their classmates and rivals from across their region to gain a place in the grand final and the chance to compete for the first prize of a family trip to Africa.

The aim of the competition is simple: to inspire a love of languages at a young age. As reports show that the number of students continuing with languages at secondary school is dropping, EuroTalk hopes to show the young competitors that the subject can be both fun and useful.

The JLC is now in its tenth year and first ever winner Lucy Smith from Stockton-on-Tees, now 21, remembers it fondly. “I still can't believe I won, and I will never forget my experience,” she says. “Thanks to the JLC, I now have a passion for languages, and I'm still love learning new ones! Anyone can, and everyone should have a go at learning a foreign language, because you just don't know how useful it will be, and where it will take you in the future.”

At the final tomorrow, the competitors will be joined by Pride of Britain’s Young Fundraiser for 2013, Martha Payne. Martha hit the headlines last year with her school dinner blog, NeverSeconds, and has since gone on to raise over £130,000 for Mary’s Meals, a charity in Malawi providing school dinners to children.

“Martha’s a really great inspiration,” says Richard Howeson, EuroTalk’s chairman and founder of the JLC. “With her energy and enthusiasm she’s demonstrated how any one of us is capable of making a positive difference to many people’s lives. We’re delighted that she’s agreed to award the prizes to our finalists, who have also shown that they have the potential to achieve great things.”

There is a reason Chichewa was selected as the final language for this year’s competition; all the entry fees paid by the competitors are used by EuroTalk to purchase educational resources for schools in Malawi. The company has a mission to bring the best possible education to one billion children across the world, and has been working in Malawi for several years, providing learning software in Chichewa so that children who would otherwise have very limited access to teaching are able to learn.

The Junior Language Challenge final will take place between 10am and 2pm on Friday, 18th October at Language Show Live, Olympia Central, London. All are welcome to attend.

About the EuroTalk Junior Language Challenge

The JLC is a national competition for children under 11, founded and run by London-based language learning publisher EuroTalk. Children from across the UK learn up to three new languages in under nine months, competing for a place in the final and the chance to become JLC champion. Each competitor pays £2.50 to enter, which is used to purchase educational resources for schools in Malawi.

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Liz Dyer
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