Primary school children are being encouraged to learn Italian at schools across the country using online resources.
As part of the Junior Language Challenge (JLC), which was launched at the Education Show in Birmingham on March 20th, children enrolled in the digital learning programme and received access to online language tuition worth £30 in exchange for a £5 donation to a charity of their choosing.
The challenge is run annually and attracts more than a thousand entrants each year. This year, the proceeds will go towards onebillion, a charitable organisation set up to help educate children from developing countries around the world.
Now in its tenth year, the programme is credited by teachers from a number of schools in encouraging and inspiring an interest in languages among their pupils. Particularly at this point in time, the JLC is a timely initiative with the government placing a large emphasis on learning languages.
In fact, this is a major priority for the Department for Education, which is set to make language learning a mandatory part of the curriculum for all primary schools from the start of the next academic year in 2014.
Susannah Stockton, of Oakwood School in Chichester, said that the digital resources are great at encouraging children to learn and motivating them to competed against one another and themselves in order to improve their performance.
"Lots of them tell me that they never knew before entering this competition how easy learning languages was and how much they liked it."
The online learning programme is open to all children under the age of 11 and makes use of native Italian speakers in order to help children learn.
The resources comprise online language games designed to make learning fun. Children score points for various activities, with the highest scoring students progressing to the advanced rounds of the competition. The ultimate winner will take home a family holiday to Africa.
According to the programme's organisers, the first language the students will learn is Italian, but there is scope to start learning others as well over the six months that it runs, until October.