Here at EuroTalk we love hearing feedback from participants of the Junior Language Challenge! So when runner-up Aalaya Sanjeeva’s teacher Jackie Gliniecka from The Hawthorns School sent us this wonderful message about how she’s found being involved in the competition over the years, we had to share it with you 🙂
10 years ago, in 2005, we received a flyer from EuroTalk telling us about this competition, and we encouraged the children to enter it. It was an exciting adventure and we have repeated the experience every year since.
I remember so clearly, when we reached the semi-finals and I met Dick Howeson for the first time. His passion for languages and education, together with his compassion and drive to change the world, completely bowled me over; when talking about the competition to anyone and everyone who stands still for long enough to listen, I feel compelled to try and include a description of Dick. The best I can manage, to convey his wonderful energy, enthusiasm and gentle treatment of these young children combined with the fantastic difference that he encourages them all to make in the world, is a sort of cross between a kindly mad professor and a true saint! And what a fantastic team he has built up around him, too; Liz, who is always there to answer all queries in an incredibly efficient and kindly way so as to not scare the teachers and parents; Franco, who has the unenviable task of running the semi-finals and the finals with a rod of iron, yet maintaining a kindly, gentle, friendly demeanour so as not to scare the children; and countless others who make taking part in this competition a real joy.
Over the years, so many of my pupils have benefitted in so many ways from this wonderful competition; not only do they get the chance to try lots of different languages, thereby deepening their general knowledge of language and developing language learning strategies, but also it opens windows onto the world, helping to turn them into good global citizens, sowing the seeds that will encourage them, like Dick, to make a difference in the world. It is all done in such a gentle, fun way, encouraging independent learning, allowing the children to push themselves as far as they want to and at the same time helping the amazing work of the charities that the JLC support.
Aalaya has entered this competition 3 years in a row and has made the final each time. She was ecstatically happy to have come second this year and the whole school is so proud of her. This competition requires so much more than just the ability to acquire huge amounts of language in a very short space of time; you need a brilliant memory, a very cool head, nerves of steel, the ability to stay calm and focused and the faith to persevere under extreme pressure. What a brilliant set of skills to develop, and, although Aalaya has all these skills in bucketfuls, it has been so rewarding for me to see her develop and hone them enable her to achieve such a high standard in your competition.
The great thing is, though, as Dick always tells them, just to have entered makes them winners because of the good they are doing for others and the fun they have along the way!
Look out for next week’s blog post to find out what second place finalist Aalaya and her mum Priya think about the Junior Language Challenge!
If you were part of the Junior Language Challenge in 2015 – or any previous year – and you’d like to share your story, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org; we love hearing from our JLCers 🙂