When was the last time you hugged a language learner?
Language learning can be lonely, so events that bring us together make a huge difference in motivation and attitude. After Lindsay and I reported on the Language Show Live in London last month (don't miss her vlog!), there were so many people commenting and saying
"I wanna go to this, how can I find out when and where?"
How to Find The Best Language Learning Events
There are three different types of events to attend, ranging from small meet-ups to global conferences. The following list of events covers a few from each type, but of course there are many many more to find.
Get out of the house, go and meet up with other language lovers. You won't regret it.
1. Polyglot Events
Polyglot events are a newly emerging trend that I've noticed over the past few years. These events are fuelled by language lovers discovering online communities about productivity, language learning and wanting to learn from established speakers.
The interesting thing about these particular events is that they are often community-organised, and put together by "non-academic scholars" who want to share a love of language learning. Far from being competitive or uppity, these meetings are perfect for independent learners.
The Polyglot Workshops combine instruction with coaching and community. There's a well-known instructor team of Olly Richards, Alex Rawlings and Richard Simcott to guide you through a the full day schedule. Each workshop is limited to 25 places. The workshops are available where the boys are, and have been held in Berlin, Poznan, Warsaw, Budapest, London, Brazil), New York and Czech Republic with plans for Italy, Spain and Singapore over the next year.
Alex Rawlings explains:
There are no events quite like the Polyglot Workshops. There are hundreds of thousands of courses you can take, but this is the only one that takes a step backwards from that and instead teaches you how to learn a language properly with exclusive one to one time with world renowned experts. Everybody who's been to our workshops loves them, and an enormous percentage keep coming back for more!
Alex describes this event as "multilingualism on stage". The Polyglot Conference focuses on talks from speakers covering all things language. This year alone, there were presentations about language blogging, how design can bridge the language gaps, and how Yiddish is forming communities in many places. Check out the full agenda for more inspiration.
The next Polyglot Conference is going to take place in Reykjavik, Iceland in Oct 2017. Check them out on Facebook.
This Berlin-based event runs for a whole four days! It's the most inclusive out of all events. The focus is entirely on community, with almost a third of participants also speaking on one session or another. Chris from Actual Fluency has called it life-changing.
Judith Meyer, one of the principal organizers, says:
We have a lot of speakers, because we assume that as polyglots, we all have something to teach each other and we all have something to learn.
The next Polyglot Gathering is in 2018. Sign up to their newsletter to make sure you get updates when the tickets are available.
2. Language Festivals & Trade Shows
Language festivals and trade shows are organized all over the world. Trade shows are not the same as the polyglot-focused events above, but they are usually free to attend and a great place to meet like-minded people. Here are some of the biggest names in the business.
- Expolingua, Berlin
Expolingua is a trade fair, so it's dominated by language businesses offering study trips, textbooks and language courses in all corners of Germany and Europe. But that is not everything, as you can also attend talks and debate language policy in Europe or find out more about career opportunities. Or how about a mini-course in Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese..?
Language Show Live, London
The Language Show is the UK's biggest language-focused event. The London event takes place in mid-October, and now the team behind LS Live has also added a Glasgow Language Show.
I attend the language show regularly and love how it brings together many businesses, teachers, and learners who want to find out what's new in this industry. It puts language learning on the map in the UK. Read my full review of the Language Show Live 2015.
Language World is a teacher-focused event held at a different UK University campus every year. Its talks focus on language policy and how to make the best out of teaching languages in schools here in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you're involved in classroom learning, this is a great choice for you.
Cristobál, who blogs at krzysiek.cl, told me about the Fiesta de los idiomas in Providencia, Chile. With over 20 free 45-minute language classes for adults and for children, the festival sounds like a fun day out. Cristobál says:
In Chile, there isn't a great policy to encourage language learning, and having such opportunities [for exposure] are fundamental to create awareness. I often saw families with young children, students and old people going, sitting down in the grass and learning.
- Multilingual Café, Taipei
Blogger Teddy Nee is involved in a large language café event in his city Taipei, Taiwan. Imagine a large meet-up open to anyone who wants to practice their languages. Participants are free to join any language table they want. If you're in Taipei, join them here to find out more!
Smaller Meet-Ups In Your Area
As the language learning community grows online, we're also seeing so many more offline events for language learners. Just think - even my little city Lancaster has a language café!
If you are curious about what's happening in your area, try joining a Facebook group dedicated to being a language learner, as those are always buzzing with events and discussions. Here are a few for you to choose from:
Which ones have you attended?
Tell me about your own language adventures in the comments - which other events are unmissable?
Next year, I"m excited to join this great community. There will be a 2016 Fluent Language event. If you want to stay up to date with all announcements about it, make sure you join the Fluent Language Newsletter today.