October 14, 2016 3:38 pm
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A 9-year-old girl from Birmingham has won the UK’s only primary school language challenge to be crowned 2016 winner and earn a family trip to Africa to see the work of charity onebillion in person.

This year’s uTalk Junior Language Challenge for children aged 10 and under started in March and saw over 1,000 children representing more than 50 primary schools across the UK, learning Romanian, Korean and Swahilli for the final. Ritisha Baidyaray from the Blue Coat School in Birmingham beat off competition from 29 other finalists, including runners-up Farah Akbar from Nottingham and Grace Blackett from Welwyn.

Ritisha Baidyaray, JLC champion 2016Ritisha – who won the JLC two days before her 10th birthday – said, “I didn’t think I was going to win, I just wanted to do my best and make my parents proud of me. I was really nervous but I just focused on the games, and when I realised I’d won I felt ecstatic.”

Channel 4’s Child Genius winner Rhea was a special guest, handing out medals and the trophy. She said: “I know a little something about academic competitions, so I know how hard the finalists have worked to get here and how much their parents and siblings have supported them along the way. I would love to have done something like the JLC – I’m outside the age bracket now but I’ll tell my brother to do it next year!”

uTalk’s founder and chairman Dick Howeson says the Junior Language Challenge proves how open children are to learning more languages than the curriculum normally allows.

“It’s amazing how easily young children learn languages when they are given the freedom to play with them. I am passionate about throwing out the rule book to have fun with languages and the Junior Language Challenge proves this can work.”

All money raised goes to uTalk’s sister charity onebillion. Last year’s £5,000 helped develop the technology for solar projectors to help share fluency and numeracy learning. onebillion’s CEO Andrew Ashe said this year’s money will help fund a new initiative to bring their lessons alive through graded children’s books for schools in developing countries.

Find out more about the JLC at juniorlanguagechallenge.com.

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This post was written by uTalk