b small language learning books are designed to help young people practise foreign languages at home, or on the move. This year b small has relaunched its Young Language Learner Award. The competition runs in two categories (under 6s and over 6s) and one winner from each wins a mini library of b small language learning books worth £50, and their story published on the b small website. Quite an incentive/win for a young learner!
In the run up to the deadline for entries (15th June), here is an interview with b small publisher and awards judge, Sam Hutchinson about the awards, and the b small mission to get more young people learning languages earlier.
1) How many times have you judged the Young Language Learner Awards, and what do you like about it?
This is the third time we’ve run the competition and I have been one of the judges since the beginning. The other judges on the panel have changed each year but we try to involve a teacher and an author in the mix. My role is to assess the story from a more commercial point of view and I love seeing the variety in the entries – some kids tell their stories through illustrations and use very little language. Others write pages and pages!
2) What do you look for in a winning entry?
As the publisher of b small, I’m looking for a story that shows off the entrant’s skills and will inspire our readers to want to learn a foreign language, too. So the story has to be simple, clear, original and above all interesting.
3) Why do you think the awards are important?
Speaking other languages is so much fun but so many people are too scared to start. We want more and more children to discover just how enjoyable communicating in a foreign language can be. Beyond that, it’s obviously a useful skill for when you’re older and now more than ever we should be encouraging young children to look outwards and be open to and accepting of things that are different or new.
4) Why should young people start learning languages earlier?
Because it’s a fun thing to do together! There is also plenty of research to show that learning a foreign language exercises the brain and improves performance in other areas at school. But the best reason for starting kids at a young age is that they are less self-conscious so they don’t get embarrassed making mistakes and they will pick up a more authentic accent without having to try.
5) What would be your top tip for entrants in 2017?
Try to choose a group of words (animals for example) or a couple of phrases that you find useful and want to teach other people. Then create a simple story that repeats the useful words and phrases without being too boring… It’s harder than it sounds! If you can do this then you’ll make a story that shows off your skills and teaches other kids some key vocabulary.
If any children you know are learning a foreign language they can enter the 2017 Young Language Learner awards and be in with a chance of winning a mini-library worth £50 of b small language learning books.