As a primary French specialist teacher who firmly believes in the importance of inspiring a love of languages at a young age, I was thrilled to discover "The Junior Language Challenge" for the first time in March - especially since French was the focus language in the first round this year!
The Junior Language Challenge is the UK’s only language challenge for primary schools.
Watch this video to see what it's all about:
This exciting national competition is for children under 11 across the UK. It is a fantastic way to engage pupils in language learning by challenging them to compete against other pupils across the UK. All of the action can be tracked on a live leader board. It makes languages fun, introduces children to new languages, encourages independent learning and there are certificates and prizes on offer for the highest scoring pupils, including a family holiday to Africa!
The Junior Language Challenge also raises funds for a fantastic charity onebillion. All entry fees from the JLC are donated to onebillion, a non-profit software publisher with the goal of transforming learning for one billion marginalised children. To find out more about onebillion please visit their website:
After having promoted the Junior Language Challenge across KS2 in my cluster of primary schools, I was delighted to see so many children sign up to take part in the Junior Language Challenge 2017. They were thrilled to receive a goodie bag in the post containing a bag, a pen, a badge and a sticker.
The children wore their badges with pride on their school uniforms.
They enjoyed working their way up the leader board by playing on-line language games and scoring points on the Junior Language Challenge app.
The competition soon created a buzz of excitement around the school. Each French lesson, we would take a quick look at the Junior Language Challenge leader board which added a competitive element fuelling their independent learning.
When Round 1 came to an end in June, all the children were thrilled to receive a Junior Language Challenge certificate of participation in assembly. A significant number of children also scored enough points to achieve a bronze, silver or gold award and some children even scored enough points to make it through to Round 2 – the Semi-final!
Round 2 ran from June to September. Semi-finalists had to learn a second language, Japanese, ready for a live semi-final in September. I was so impressed by their enthusiasm, self-motivation and determination to learn this new language independently, at home or in school at lunchtime!
Here are some photos of the children at the Junior Language Challenge semi-final 2017:
The children thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the semi-final. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet all the other semi-finalists in real life, after having played against them and seeing their names on the leader board in the first round. All the children were delighted to receive a certificate, a medal and a goodie bag containing a t-shirt, a ball, sweets and other souvenirs! Two of the children were ecstatic to come in first and second place, making it through to the final round!
What the winning pupils said:
"I was slightly nervous, but I just focused on the games. When I realised I’d got through to the final, I couldn’t believe it! I’m very proud. All the hard work has paid off!”
"I still can't believe I got through to the final, and I will never forget the experience. I have a passion for languages and learnt a lot of French, Japanese and now I’m going to be learning another new language! I want to take part in the Junior Language Challenge again next year to learn some more new languages!"
Round 3 runs from September to October. The winners of the semi-finals have a month to learn their third and final language, Zulu, before the grand final at Language Show Live, London, in October.
Once again, I was so impressed by the enthusiasm, self-motivation and determination of these two finalists to learn this challenging new language entirely independently!
The final takes place this Friday and I wish all the finalists, especially the two talented little linguists that I teach, the best of luck… or should I say “ngikufisela inhlanhla”!
I’ll certainly be promoting the Junior Language Challenge again in 2018! The children enjoyed the challenge of learning new languages through games and it is a fantastic way to offer language extension at primary level. The competition is a great motivator to language learning and it really brings languages to life. It teaches children not to be afraid of different languages, but to be inspired to learn them!