The 1,000 Words Campaign stems from concerns that the country is losing out on international trade and jobs because of poor language skills.
It aims to confront the view that only the brightest can learn a language.
The group say a vocabulary of 1,000 words would allow a speaker to hold a simple conversation.
The challenge is part of Speak to the Future, a wider campaign backed by organisations including the British Council, the CBI, the British Academy and a range of embassies and language teaching bodies. More.