October 25, 2019 1:00 pm
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We’re halfway through Round One of the 2019/20 uTalk Junior Language Challenge and so thought it would be a good idea to update you all on how that’s going. If you’re on the fence about having your student or child participate, keep reading and see if we can convince you to join in the fun!

It’s been over a month since we officially launched this year’s uTalk Junior Language Challenge and so far, around 2,000 primary-aged children across the UK are currently learning a new language! 

The vast majority are learning Spanish, the language of tapas and football (arguably), which should put them in good stead for a move up to secondary school. German and Italian take up the second and third spots of our top ten, though it’s interesting to see we seem to have one class learning Swahili and another learning Māori!

And while we could go on all day about why every child should be involved in this competition, we thought we’d ask the teachers who have entered their classes why they’ve chosen the languages they have. We’ve collected a few comments—maybe they’ll give you some inspiration as to what your students could learn!

“In both my schools I chose Spanish for the first round as I teach it in one of the schools and I have a Spanish club in the other.”

“The kids are really enjoying it and they love a bit of a competition with the leader board.  After less than a week some of my girls have already got more than 1500, they are determined to get to the final!”

Laetitia Davies, Howell’s School and Monmouth School for Boys’ Prep

“We chose to do Italian as part of the Junior Language Challenge because it is one of the most widely spoken languages in Europe. It is a  beautiful language and a country steeped in culture and I wanted the children to have the opportunity of exploring both the language and its rich culture. Our target language in school is French and we wanted to study another romance language so that we could also discuss similarities and differences between the two languages. So far, the children are thoroughly enjoying the experience and it is lovely when they come up to me and want to practise the new words and phrases they have learnt. Junior Language Challenge also has a social aspect to it in that we get to meet children from other schools who also enjoy learning new languages. We love it!”

Rita Brice, Longwell Green Primary School

“At Fairfield Prep we chose Spanish as our first language in the uTalk challenge. The children have been so excited to join and be able to learn a few words of a new language.

“Throughout my day children tell me how much they are enjoying taking part. The children are very motivated seeing their points increase.”

Lisa Izard, Fairfield Prep School

“Holme Grange is doing German for Round One. I chose it because in Year 7, they can trial Spanish and German and in Year 8 they take on a second language (they all have French).  German is far less popular and pupils find it too difficult. So I am looking into other ways to inspire younger age groups with languages.”

Monika Nemethi, Holme Grange School

“We have chosen Spanish for our first round because some of our children have done Spanish as part of a club and also because I felt it wasn’t too daunting a language. We learn French at school and there are similarities. Our pupils have not long started to sign up and join in but are collecting points and having fun!”

Claire Newman, The Blue Coat School

“We have chosen Spanish again! We teach Spanish, French and German at school and last year we chose Spanish for the first round. This year my plan was to pick German as they will do French in the second round but pupils overwhelmingly pleaded to learn Spanish again so we went with that as many more would sign up.” 

Judith Nagel, Norwich School

“I chose Maori because I wanted a language that no one in the school spoke – we have quite a large EAL community so most of the European and Asian languages were out! I thought that Maori would be interesting as they learned about the Hakka [sic] (from rugby) in games last year, so it gives them more of an idea of Maori culture.

“I had a go myself before they started, and I have to say the students have taken to it a lot faster than me, it was great to see them listening and recording their voice straight away in the lesson. Anyone that wants to continue now has to do it at home, and after three days our highest scorer is on about 350 points.”

Annie Burton, Pembridge Hall

So, which language are you interested in? Portuguese? Yoruba? Japanese? Whichever it is, don’t hesitate—sign up your children or pupils for the uTalk Junior Language Challenge today! They have 56 days left to earn their 500 points in Round One which will qualify them to go into Round Two (and learn French!). 

What are you waiting for?




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