News release: Languages campaign launches new free App to overturn preconceptions about language learning

01 Feb 2016

NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                             

1 February 2016


Languages campaign launches new free App to overturn preconceptions about language learning


Speak to the Future, the campaign for languages, is challenging everyone to devote 15 minutes of their time to test out a new approach to learning languages which could change their minds about what it involves.


Developed in conjunction with Minute Mandarin, to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the App is aimed at everyone who thinks that learning a new language is beyond them, and that Chinese is especially hard.


The 15 minute Mandarin challenge is easy to use, intuitive and fun. But it also has a serious purpose: to develop people’s curiosity about how language and culture fit together to provide different windows on the world.


Bernardette Holmes, Campaign Director of Speak to the Future, says:

‘To everyone who has given up on language learning, or is afraid they are not cut out for it, we say “take the 15 minute Mandarin challenge”. It could open up a new world for you.  Take 15 minutes to change your ideas about foreign languages!’


Tim Nash, of Minute Mandarin, says:

‘Mandarin is so different, that from the first minute, you are immersed in a culture that can open your mind to understanding differences between people. It also has vast potential for making us think differently about language learning. We want as many people as possible to give it a try and let us know what they think.’


The 15 Minute Mandarin challenge App can be downloaded free from the Apple store, or from Google Play for Android users. Alternatively, you can follow the links from


The challenge is open throughout the month of February, to welcome in the Year of the Monkey. There is a prize draw for everyone who completes the challenge by 29 February 2016.



Philip Harding-Esch, Speak to the Future: 07834 174733

Tim Nash, Minute Mandarin: 07507 809041



1.       Last year, 49% of students took a GCSE in a language. Just over 1% of all language entries were in Chinese (3,710 out of 335,561 – figures from

2.       Speak to the Future has called on head teachers to include languages within a core curriculum in Key Stage 4 in support of an outward-facing Britain

3.       Research commissioned by the British Council last year showed that, while three quarters of British adults (73%) think that speaking another language is an important skill, nearly half (46%) are embarrassed by their current lack of language skills.

4.       Chinese New Year is celebrated throughout the month of February. In China, each year is named after a different animal on a 12 year cycle.

5.       The British Council has produced a teaching resource for young children about the Year of the Monkey. It can be downloaded from


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