October 27-29, 2017

Reykjavík, Iceland


Thessaloniki 2016

Anthony Lauder

Why Is My Accent So Bad?

Whenever I speak a foreign language, and feel mighty proud of my accent, the first question I am asked is usually "which part of England are you from?" No matter how hard I try, I still sound like an Englishman. Why is it that some people can develop a great accent, and others (such as me) can't? I used to think this was a speaking problem - if only I could train the way I speak I could finally get that perfect accent. Over recent months, though, I have come to realise that much of the problem for people with terrible accents is not about speaking but about hearing. They cannot hear the difference between their own accent and a "correct one" and so can't improve it. So, is the "secret" to a good accent developing better hearing, before developing better speaking? And if so, how?
Matthew Youlden and Michael Youlden

What’s in a Name? Language Policies and Identity

  • Matthew Youlden and Michael Youlden | Website
Language is one of the most poignant markers of our identity, from the words we use to even the very name of the language/s we speak. Language policies are fundamental in shaping linguistic practices, and in turn, local or national identity, often bringing about political consequences. From Alsatian to Valencian, from (Ottoman) Turkish to Serbo-Croat, this presentation will look at the roles of language planning and policy in the public sphere throughout the ages and discuss how they have contributed to shaping and developing language as well as defining linguistic use and affiliation in the modern era.
Alan King

Size Isn't Everything: Studying Tiny Languages

I am going to talk a roomful of polyglots into making the next language they learn a minority, indigenous or endangered one, or maybe one undergoing frantic attempts at recovery. This may seem like a questionable choice. A tiny language may not help your professional career, or impress your friends. Even native speakers may consider your choice an odd one, and most people won’t have heard of Pong or Goobish. It may even become extinct before you’ve finished learning it. Plus, a lack of decent documentation, learning materials, anybody to practise to with or anything to read in it can make learning these languages a difficult choice. In this talk I will ask whether it is really doable, and why you would bother in the first place. As as a veteran tiny language learner (microglot?), I will draw on my experiences working with a variety of endangered and minority languages to show you how and why learning these languages is fun, engaging, and worthwhile.
Carole Westerkamp

The Most Valuable Language To Learn: The Language Of The Giraffe

Whatever language you use to speak to someone, how exactly do you speak it? And I don’t mean how well or with what accent, what I actually mean is “How compassionate?” Marshall Rosenberg developed the nonviolent communication (NVC) process in the 1960s. Rosenberg believes that most conflicts between individuals or groups arise from unclear communication of their needs. When people use language that provokes fear, shame or guilt in a conflict situation, the other person’s attention is diverted. “Violent” language prevents people from seeing their feelings, needs and requests clearly. The conflict intensifies because that “violent part” causes counter-violence. In this interactive workshop at the Polyglot Conference 2016 Carole Westerkamp will teach you how to speak the language of the giraffe (in any given language). By practicing NVC, you can gain effective communication skills to resolve conflicts, enhance cooperation and improve the working atmosphere. You will feel the pleasure of improving one another’s well-being by using this beautiful language of the giraffe.
Tim Keeley

The Age Factor in Foreign Language Acquisition: A Critical Period for Foreign Language Acquisition, Reality or Myth

The proposition that there is an age factor at play in the acquisition of additional languages has long been – and continues to be – a hotly debated topic. According to Singleton (1985), the views range from the position that children are in all respects more efficient and effective in acquiring additional languages to the complete contrary position that adolescents and adults are more efficient and effective learners. A central and very controversial part of this debate is the alleged critical period hypothesis (CPH). The CPH was first proposed by neurologists Penfield and Roberts (1959) and later popularized by Lenneberg (1967). It should be noted that the focus in both these cases was on first or primary language acquisition (PLA-CPH). Later the CPH was extended to encompass second language acquisition (SLA-CPH). This presentation gives a broad introduction to the subject and then focuses on critically examining the research of Johnson and Newport (1989) in relation to immigrants and that of Patricia Kuhl (2004, 2007, 2010) in relation to early childhood development. The conclusion is that there is overwhelmingly more counter evidence than supporting evidence for biological age-related constraints on foreign language acquisition. Age-related differences in learner outcomes can be effectively explained by social, psychological and attitudinal factors.
Dr. Zoi Resta & Dr. Anastasios Ioannidis

The Language Project: Words are meaningful

  • Dr. Zoi Resta & Dr. Anastasios Ioannidis | Website
The youth cultural initiative, under the title The Language Project, is part of the StART program supported by the R. Bosch Foundation conducted in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki and the German Network of Community Art Centers. We produce versatile translation-based events promoting translation, foreign languages and interculturalism. Through the collaboration with European and Greek institutions, we organize events aiming at getting the translator out of his/her cocoon and making translation a co-creative process. We engage youth in order for them to produce, to be part of and to attend events related to translation and interpreting, to state their personal connection with foreign languages and to become members of a linguists' online network. The aim of our presentation is, therefore, to introduce the main activities that have been launched up to now by our Project and show how these activities contribute to multilingualism and learning foreign languages. Within this framework, the main emphasis will be put on the Cooperative Translation Workshop that focuses on translation as an innovative approach in language education, on the Co-creating Comics Translation Workshop, where several groups of youngsters work together, translate comics and cartoons and collaborate with the graphic designer, on the Translation Slam, a battle with words and phrases as weapons, where young translators present their translations of the same original text and defend their choices in front of a participatory audience, and on The Transparent Translator, an event in which a young translator is asked to translate live on a desk, with his or her coffee mug, a table light, laptop, dictionaries etc. an abstract of a book, so that the audience can lively witness the experience of the translation process. Concluding, we are going to present the social impact of these initiatives, as exerted not only to the participants of these events, but also to the general public.
Karen Gerson Sarhon

Sephardic Humor and the Ladino Language

Humor is a very special characteristic of cultures and languages and contains in its essence, the specific character of the community to which it belongs. It tells us about their lives, their wishes, their pain, their loves and their laughs. Sephardic humor is very specific because the Sephardim know how to laugh at themselves, which is something that is not easily found in many communities. The typical Sephardi, man or woman, anecdotes, proverbs, idioms, humoristic or absurd songs: all of these will give us a good idea of what Sephardic humor is, especially the humor of the Sephardim of the Ottoman Empire. This cultural heritage shows us how the Jews used to live in the past and what they laughed at. We will have the opportunity to see that humor actually transcends time and that there is a universal kind of humor that is understood by all and that makes all laugh. We are happy when we laugh, so let's laugh a little!
Ellen Jovin

Language Utopia! One Polyglot’s Product Fantasies

In a world flooded with language materials, polyglots tend towards omnivorousness — and long-time product reviewer Ellen Jovin is no exception. In this presentation Ellen will describe instructional shortcomings as well as strengths in learning materials she has tested over the years, drawing on a broad selection of publishers and including scientifically unproven analytical techniques such as the Fun-to-Fluency Ratio. If you have ever really loved or hated a language product, this presentation promises opportunities for catharsis while also exploring, quite seriously, how specific product improvements could actually increase language-learning in an interconnected world.
Emily Canning

Lives On The Line: Language and Conflict in Central Asia

In June 2010, the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan, burned for four days. Several hundred people were killed, targeted largely along ethnic lines. Yet how did such a conflict arise? Some members of the Kyrgyz ethnic majority maintained that it was precisely the minority Uzbeks’ demand that their language be recognized as official that triggered this wave of violence. Having witnessed this conflict and its aftermath firsthand, this talk will explore the intimate interconnections between language and power. The process through which one language dominates and another is silenced can happen gradually, but in this case it happened nearly overnight. Employing data collected over two years of fieldwork, I will explore how attitudes regarding a particular tongue are rarely about language, but are rather laden with deeper assumptions regarding territory, resources, and who or what can claim to represent the soul of a nation.
Arradi Nur Rizal

How To Start Your Own Polyglot Community

Learning language can be more fun if we learn it with likeminded people in an environment where people could encourage each other to be a better learner. Talking and interacting with people who has the same passion as you do, would increase your motivation to keep learning as well as having fun along the learning process. Unfortunately, such environment does not usually exist everywhere. If we don't like to learn language alone or a language community does not exist nearby, you could either have two choices; waiting for someone to create the community or building your own community. I faced the same challenge before and I chose the latter. My name is Rizal, founder and chairman of Polyglot Indonesia. I am going to talk about how to start and organize your polyglot communities. The talk will be based on my personal story on how I started Polyglot Indonesia, including my motivation, how I developed it and how we promote and organize Polyglot Indonesia, as well as how we coordinate our members from different cities across the country. I hope nobody would study alone if they don't want to.
Christina Takouda

Is It “All Greek” To You?

This interactive presentation addresses the challenge of delivering the first lesson of Modern Greek to people who are not familiar with the Greek alphabet and who do not have previous knowledge of ancient Greek. However, what they do have in common is a respected amount of Greek-originated words, part of our so called “common cultural knowledge”. These words belong to well-known academic domains such as mathematics, medicine, political sciences etc., but also, quite unexpectedly, to our everyday life as world citizens and thanks to marketing, as consumers. The term “international Greek” may sound as a joke in today’s world, where Greek is spoken by a tiny part of the global population, but it can be a useful tool for polyglots or anyone who wishes to learn Modern Greek. It overcomes obstacles of meaning, it helps focus on sound and form and it encourages learners to guess, recognize, speak and write their first words in the target language. So, are you ready to participate in a guessing game –our first lesson to foreign students in Aristotle University’s “School of Modern Greek Language”? Are you ready to admit that the Greek you know is more than you imagine and far from just old school knowledge? Let’s play and see…
Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann

Sleeping Beauties Awake: Language Revival, Cognitive Empowerment and Social Wellbeing

  • Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann | Website
This keynote will explain why language revival and diversity are (1) right, (2) beautiful, and (3) beneficial. In our globalized world, more and more groups are losing their heritage. Language reclamation, revitalization and reinvigoration are becoming increasingly relevant as more and more people seek to reconnect with their ancestors, recover their cultural autonomy, empower their spiritual and intellectual sovereignty, and improve their wellbeing and mental health. There is an urgent need to offer comparative insights, for example from the Hebrew revival, which is so far the most successful known linguistic reclamation. Given capricious governmental policies, this keynote will propose compensation (for linguistic activities) for peoples whose mother tongue was killed (due to linguicide), making Indigenous tongues the official languages of their region, and erecting multi-lingual official signs. The keynote will also explore some cognitive advantages of multilingualism.
Gaston Dorren

What Languages Don't Want You To Know

All languages, big and small, have their embarrassing secrets. Gaston Dorren, linguistic muckraker and author of Lingo, will reveal them mercilessly. He will show you how inefficient Spanish is, how immature French and how confused Dutch. He will explain why Norwegian was unneeded and German unlikely. He will disclose how one Balkan language thrives on lies, and the Celtic tongues on rain. There’s just one that he’ll praise, spoken by Europe’s most polyglot nation and not taken too seriously even by them.
Bartłomiej Janiczak

The endangered language and culture of Wilamowice: a small town in Southern Poland with mysterious history

  • Bartłomiej Janiczak
If you take a look at the language map of Poland, you will not see much diversity. There is, nevertheless, something incredibly unique hidden in a small town of Wilamowice. More than 700 years ago, settlers from the West founded a village that despite having been surrounded by Polish population for ages, preserved its different culture, identity and language which currently appears to be highly endangered. Locals speak of their Flemish, Frisian or Anglo-Saxon provenience, some argue about German roots. I will share with you the story of Wilamowice and its language called Wymysiöeryś - the most intriguing tongue spoken in my country.
Eithne Gallagher

Equal Rights to the Curriculum: Promoting Home Languages in the Classroom – From Theory to Practice

Children need to understand from an early age that being a polyglot is not only a desirable outcome of education but also an achievable one. All too often in schools the only language of consequence is the language of instruction. Schools need to move away from this notion and begin using a pedagogical approach that is open to other languages and cultures. In this lecture I will introduce the pedagogy of Interlingual Teaching and Learning and present effective everyday strategies for connecting languages in ways that stimulate both cognitive and emotional growth.
Professor Alexander Arguelles

Language Learning as Mental Exercise and Discipline

  • Professor Alexander Arguelles | Website
This keynote address will focus on the many analogies between language learning and athleticism. Approaching language study as a mental sport or game can provide an important and valuable key to successful learning. Just as one needs to exercise the body in order to remain physically fit, so one needs to exercise the mind in order to remain mentally fit, and studying foreign languages is a particularly effective form of mental training. Just as one needs to train properly and progressively in order to get and stay physically fit or one will risk injury, burn-out, stasis, and lopsided development, so also one needs to study properly and progressively in order to avoid similar difficulties in the mind when learning languages. One set of mental muscles that is all too often neglected even in otherwise intense polyglot workouts is the diachronic muscles, so this keynote address will lay particular stress on how the study of ancient and medieval languages can open up lost worlds and enable you to know a culture through the ages and not just as it is now. Furthermore, just as when one starts to take sports and exercise more seriously, one needs to shift one’s attitude and approaches from an amateur mindset to a professional one, so the same is true in the mental arena, and this shift can be carried from foreign language learning to other intellectual pursuits. Finally, just as physical exercise provides benefits transcending the corporeal, such as increased confidence and stamina, so also the discipline and habits necessary for success in language learning can be transferred to other, more creative pursuits after they have been developed in the study of foreign languages.
Rodolfos Maslias

The Cultural Aspects of Multilingual EU Legislation

My passion is Terminology. The equivalence of the terms we use in all languages to understand and explain the concept we have in mind. I really enjoy dealing with this challenge from my post as Head of the Terminology Coordination of the European Parliament in Luxembourg and in my courses in the University of Luxembourg in the Master "Multilingual Learning in Multicultural Contexts". I will be very excited to talk with all of you among Polyglots in Thessaloniki, the city where I was born and grew up about the cultural aspects of the multilingual legislation of the European Union governing 28 peoples in 24 languages and the challenges we are facing to achieve through a consistent terminology its uniform implementation in all our countries. I will be glad to present to you our communication platforms and collaborative tools to ensure through the right terminology the quality of the translated texts covering 552 language combinations, since they are all for the citizens original legal acts used in all fields of their daily life.
Luca Lampariello

Translation as a Tool to Learn Any Language

It is a common belief among language learners that one’s native tongue often gets in the way of learning a new language. Not so, says polyglot and language coach Luca Lampariello, who has consistently relied on his mother tongue as a valuable aid in helping him learn over a dozen languages. Over more than a decade of language learning and self-study, Luca has developed and perfected a learning method known as “bidirectional translation”, whereby the learner uses translation from L2 to L1 and back again as a powerful means of deducing the fundamental patterns of any language. Bidirectional translation has helped Luca and many of his students from all over the world find early and lasting success in their language learning endeavours, no matter the language. In this talk, Luca will walk you personally through his groundbreaking method so that you, too, can use translation to revolutionise your own language learning.
Jean-Pierre Guglielmi

Raise from the Dead: How to resurrect Ancient Greek and Egyptian to build a language course

Whatever the reason for learning ancient languages, e.g. classical Greek, Latin as well as Ancient Egyptian, the learner, from the outset, is often faced with the need to teach him or herself. How is it possible to meet such specific needs and then build up a self-teaching tool, designed for a so called “dead language”? The challenges ahead of the author are many: first of all, the ancient language is mostly a written language and therefore there is no genuine easy reading material available for the beginner. On top of that today’s learner, besides the pronunciation issue, is living in a completely different world, thousands of years away from today's realia. From that perspective, it is not easy to keep the self-learner's motivation alive when there is no chance of meeting a native speaker and to reap the benefit of the effort put in. Discovering the roots and hidden or unexpected meanings (etymology) of modern words is exciting, but the only way to apply the knowledge gained during the self-studies and put it into practice is to read real texts on walls, on paintings or in books. This keynote is about the “making-of” a success story : Assimil teach yourself methodology applied to ancient languages, based on listening, understanding, reading and repeating aloud.
Bertrand Millet et Johanna Wagman

La gamification, où l’art de faire du jeu un outil central de votre apprentissage des langues

  • Bertrand Millet et Johanna Wagman | Website
Nous aimons tous parler les langues étrangères, mais aimons-nous vraiment les apprendre ? Pas toujours facile de se réjouir des heures passées devant des livres poussiéreux à apprendre une liste interminable d’exceptions à une règle grammaticale déjà beaucoup trop complexe. Regardons les choses en face : apprendre une langue étrangère peut parfois être très ennuyeux. Quand on n’est pas linguiste, c’est l’objectif final qui nous intéresse, pas l’étude ! Alors comment rendre ce passage obligé le plus attrayant possible en conservant notre motivation et en décuplant nos capacités d’apprentissage : dîtes bonjour à la gamification. Anglicisme mis à part, nous connaissons tous l’importance du jeu dans le développement cognitif des enfants. C’est grâce aux jeux qu’ils intègrent les bases de leur langue maternelle: vocabulaire, grammaire, prononciation, puis lecture et écriture. Face à ce constat voici notre réflexion : si le jeu est un outil d’apprentissage chez les enfants, il doit pouvoir être utilisé par les adultes pour l’apprentissage des langues étrangères! Au cours de cette présentation vous apprendrez à faire du jeu votre nouvelle méthode de langues. Vous découvrirez comment le jeu et le plaisir jouent un rôle essentiel dans l’apprentissage. Nous vous livrerons des techniques pratiques pour jouer avec vos langues étrangères ainsi que la méthodologie nécessaire à la création de vos propres jeux visant à développer des compétences spécifiques dans votre nouvelle langue.
Michael Levi Harris

Characterizing your language(s): acting techniques to improve your polyglot skills

Ever wonder how your favorite actors and actresses play one type of character so convincingly and then seamlessly give an equally strong performance in a role that is utterly different in their next film or play? Of the many qualities that help actors succeed, a chameleon-like versatility is among the most powerful - and the same can be said of successful polyglots. But how do actors develop versatility? This talk will discuss and demonstrate some acting techniques that can help you improve the languages you speak or are learning by teaching you how to build a character for each language the way an actor builds a different character for each role. The focus will be on speaking and will be particularly useful for polyglots, though even if you are learning one foreign language, you can still benefit from these techniques.
Hara Garoufalia Middle & Howard Middle

Grappling with Greek

  • Hara Garoufalia Middle & Howard Middle | Website
Watch the Michel Thomas Method in action! In this distinctive presentation, Hara Garoufalia Middle and Howard Middle, authors of the Michel Thomas Greek courses, reveal the unique features of the Michel Thomas Method and what makes it work. Not only will they illustrate how the method applies to learning Modern Greek, given the particular problems and challenges it poses to learners, but as part of the presentation, the authors will show video extracts from a Masterclass filmed the day before the conference, in which a small group of absolute beginners were taught Greek the Michel Thomas way by Hara and Howard. The insightful video extracts will demonstrate the learning process from the beginning, mid-point and end of the session (which lasted several hours), to show the rapid progress learners can make, and the complexity of language they can assimilate. A Q&A session will follow. You could be part of the exclusive Friday Masterclass with Hara and Howard if you win one of three available places: visit the Michel Thomas Facebook page to enter the competition which is open to delegates only (terms and conditions apply).
Mishell Hernandez

Accidental Polyglot: Navigating the Politics and Psychology of Language

This presentation will discuss the experience of growing up trilingual and the questions of cultural identity that arose, and continue to appear, throughout the years as a consequence of language membership. Drawing from personal experience and interviews with a special cohort of individuals, biracial Mongolian individuals from the 80s and 90s generation and TCKs, the talk will provide insight into the minds of the multilingual global youth and the awkward, sometimes traumatising, predicaments they can be found in due to their radically different native tongues. This presentation is important because it offers an insight into the psychological development of multilingual children whose loyalties will often be questioned time and time again in our globalising and highly politicised world as they code-switch and code-mix. The talk will conclude with suggestions on how to effectively communicate and understand the polyglot child to foster positive relationships in the family and global community.
Alexander Kuperdyaev

Das balkanische sprachliche Weltbild?

Obwohl der Grundgedanke des sprachlichen Weltbildes bereits seit Anfang des 19. Jahrhunderts bekannt ist, fehlt in der modernen Sprachwissenschaft nach wie vor eine eindeutige und allgemein akzeptable Definition des Konzepts. Die entscheidende Schwierigkeit bei der Definierung des sprachlichen Weltbildes besteht darin, dass die Sachverhalte, die hier in die wissenschaftliche Diskussion gezogen werden, in hohem Maße die Grenzen der Sprachwissenschaft und der Sprachphilosophie überschreiten. Viele Gegebenheiten des sprachlichen Weltbildes werden aus der Sicht der anderen wissenschaftlichen Disziplinen wie Literatur – und Kulturwissenschaft, Ethnologie und Geschichte betrachtet. Unterschiedliche Modelle des sprachlichen Weltbildes wurde bisher immer nur für einzelne Sprachen postuliert. Das balkanische sprachliche Weltbild bildet dabei angeblich eine höhere Einheit, weil hier unter einem Dach die Weltbilder der balkanischen Sprachen und Kulturen zusammengefasst werden. In diesem Vortrag befassen wir uns mit dem balkanischen sprachlichen Weltmodell mit einer kurzen Vorstellung der wichtigsten Theorien des sprachlichen Weltbildes sowie des balkanischen sprachlichen Modells nach Tatjana Civ'jan. Die wichtigsten Konzepte des balkanischen sprachlichen Weltbildes werden auch mit dem einsprachigen (russischen) Sprachmodell verglichen. In dieser Präsentation werden wir auch der Frage nachgehen, welche Rolle das sprachliche Weltbild bei dem Fremdspracherwerb spielt.
Lýdia Machová

The Power of Setting Priorities in Language Learning

The traditional way of teaching languages usually makes us develop all the main skills of a language at the same time: reading, listening, writing, speaking, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. But do we really need that? And is it the most effective way to learn? Wouldn't it make more sense to concentrate on just two or three areas for a given period of time, and to see greater improvements in those selected areas? In the talk, Lydia, a language mentor from Slovakia, is going to share her practical experience with two projects. In these projects, dozens of university students and English teachers decided to improve their level of a foreign language by concentrating on just a few areas in their chosen language, and focused on those areas which they felt had the most room for improvement. Following many hours of practice, both students and teachers gained immense improvements in their chosen areas, and these amazing results spurred them to even higher levels of motivation, to learn more, and improve further.
Ellen de Visser

Niederländisch für Deutschsprachigen mit Linguistik

  • Ellen de Visser
Als Deutschsprachiger wäre es keine schlechte Idee, Niederländisch zum „Polyglot-Lebenslauf“ hinzuzufügen: Beide Sprachen sind Mitglied der germanischen Sprachfamilie und daher sehen viele grammatikalische Prinzipien und Wörter ähnlich aus. Aber passt auf, der Anschein trügt manchmal! Man kann viele Schwierigkeiten bekommen, wenn man manche Wörter oder Strukturen nicht kennt, weil es tatsächlich ein paar große Unterschieden zwischen den beiden Sprachen gibt. Kenntnisse von sogenannten „falschen Freunden“ können viel Ärger und Missverständnisse vermeiden. Einzelne Wörter, die im Gegensatz zum Deutschen in der niederländischen Sprache sehr oft benutzt werden, können im Gespräch mit einem Muttersprachler sehr hilfreich sein und mit Hilfe von Gesetzen aus der historischen Linguistik kann man sich manche Vokabeln besser merken. Das Gleiche gilt für ein paar Unterschiede aus den Bereichen der Phonetik, Graphematik, Syntax, usw., die einem helfen können schneller die verschiedenen Fähigkeiten zu verbessern. Ziel dieses Vortrags ist es mit Hilfe von Linguistik und ihren Bereichen den Besuchern verschiedene „Hacks“ mitzugeben und Unterschiede zwischen dem Deutschen und Niederländischen zu verdeutlichen, die meistens nicht in einem regulären oder nicht-linguistischen Lehrbuch zu finden sind und somit den Lernprozess zu beschleunigen.