From April 30th to May 4th, hundreds of language enthusiasts gathered in Berlin to share in their passion for languages, swap tricks of learning new languages quickly and efficiently.
Kevin Chen, CEO and Co-founder of italki shares his experience:
Being based in Shanghai, we unfortunately don’t get that many opportunities to meet many of our users face-to-face. This is one of the reasons why I was so impressed and inspired by the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin. Imagine being surrounded by hundreds of people who love learning languages, and who want to make real human connections with people around the world.
Here are just a few highlights:
- Speaking with Judith Meyer, the main organizer of the Polyglot Conference. In addition to managing a great event, she is an amazing polyglot. I was afraid to test her debate skills in Chinese.
- Learning more about Benny Lewis and his personal journey. We’ve known Benny for a long time (he visited us in Shanghai in 2012!), and his message is always so positive. Being a successful language learner is all about the desire, and an open-minded willingness to try learning in a different way.
- Meeting Olly Richards and learning more about his personal experiences in learning Arabic in Egypt. His feedback on Arabic is already helping us at italki.
- Meeting Richard Simcotts and hearing him speak about what it means to be a polyglot. He’ll also be co-organizing the Polyglot Conference, which is coming up in October.
- Getting a taste of the life of an interpreter from Lydia Machová. For a laugh, ask her about her experiences interpreting for hallucinating shamans and European tourists.
- Meeting Ulysses Hsiúng-Lúo and getting his unique perspective on the world.
- Being impressed by Vladimir Skultety, a Slovak whose American accent and amazing Chinese would allow him to pass as a native of either place.
Getting advice from Michael Levi Harris, a polyglot actor who spoke about how actors practice sounding like native speakers. Check out his hilarious short film (based on his real experiences in New York), The Hyperglot.
I also have to make a special mention of the italki teachers that I met — Alina, Lea, and Shauna! I know there are others who attended, and I wish I had had more time to meet everyone.
- Lea – http://www.italki.com/frencheek – One of italki’s most popular French teachers, and also one of Benny’s teachers!
- Alisa – http://www.italki.com/teacher/996362 – A successful Russian and Hebrew teacher, and also an entrepreneur with big dreams.
- Shana – http://www.italki.com/teacher/1552674 – Another great teacher that is able to teach online while traveling around the world.
I met so many great people, and this post would go on forever if I tried to list them all.
The whole experience made a strong impression on me, and it fired up my desire to start studying again. I considered starting Esperanto, partly based on my conversation with Chuck Smith and Katerine Berone-Adesi from the Esperanto community. However, I want to make one more push at improving my Chinese. (I’m thinking I will take the pledge in the next italki Challenge in June.)
Once again, if you have never heard of the Polyglot Gathering, I really recommend going. You’ll meet fascinating people, and be inspired to start or restart learning a language. At italki, we believe the future of education is moving in this direction — people will be driven by their passions and by a desire to understand the world. We hope that italki can continue to be an important part of this movement!