The winner of Channel 4’s Child Genius 2016 is to share her love of learning with the finalists of uTalk’s national competition, the Junior Language Challenge (JLC), when she presents prizes at the grand final on Friday.
10-year-old Rhea – who speaks Gujarati and is learning French and Hindi – believes knowing other languages helps children make friends and learn from each other.
“Competitions like these are opportunities for kids to understand one another better, literally!” says Rhea, who was crowned Child Genius in August. “Learning new things like languages is so cool and for me it means I can talk to people when I’m travelling or meet people from other countries in the UK.”
Rhea’s mum Sonal revealed that Indian TV and film has been a secret tool in improving Rhea’s understanding of Hindi and Gujarati: “Rhea’s learnt a lot of Hindi by watching Bollywood movies and Indian soap operas while reading the subtitles. It’s how I did it and it’s a really good way to listen to and learn the language.”
She welcomed the fact that the JLC donates 100% of its entry fees to the charity onebillion that supports learning across Africa.
“As a family, we believe strongly in charity – in fact, Rhea once chose to give up having a birthday party in lieu of donating the money that we would have otherwise spent. She also regularly donates 50% of her birthday money to charities that she researches and chooses.”
Children across the UK have learnt Romanian and Korean, using uTalk’s unique game-based software and competing in tense regional semi-finals on their way to the third and final round of the annual Junior Language Challenge, for which they’re now learning Swahili.
“Our JLC finalists impress us every year with their commitment and enthusiasm for languages,” says Richard Howeson, uTalk’s chairman and founder of the JLC. “We’re thrilled that Rhea, who shares that passion for learning, will be presenting the prizes at this year’s final.”
The Junior Language Challenge opened in March with over 1,000 children representing more than 50 schools across the country, between them raising £5,000 for uTalk’s charity onebillion.
The final will be held on Friday 14th October at Language Show Live, London Olympia, where the top 30 children from around the country will compete for the title.