Speakers

Call for papers for the 2022 Polyglot conference is now open. If you would like to speak at this event, please follow this link here.

The Polyglot Conference is officially recognised under the banner of UNESCO’s Decade of Indigenous Languages. In order to celebrate this fully, we will also offer a taste of local cultures and languages. There will be two week-long courses on offer by Zaloa Languages in Spanish and Nahuatl. We will also arrange for events to take place throughout the week leading up tthe conference with local stakeholders, our partners and sponsors.

You can book the Zaloa language courses here:

We will have a welcome evening on Friday 28th October as well as two full conference days on 29th and 30th October with various presentations, workshops, language practice sessions and time to make new friends!

Building communities online with polyglot content — Jo Franco

I’ve made content for over a decade, and have built global audiences that are diverse in all regards. Recently, I built a 21 day language challenge on Instagram where I was able to get people all over the internet excited about language learning through daily journal prompts, and challenges I’d not only post, but complete myself. It created a chain of language learning, inclusion, and community. I believe that we can bridge the gap of xenophobia and cultural ignorance through language learning, but it needs to be made fun and engaging. That’s what I’m on a mission to accomplish.

Why You Should Learn an Indigenous Language, Right Now, Today — Elysse DaVega

Learning an Indigenous language goes against all traditional notions of why one “should” learn a language; they’re not the most “useful”, they’re often very different and thereby more difficult, and they’re not likely to help you get that job at that international firm. In my experience, however, studying one is one of the most enriching, challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done. I spent one month in rural Guatemala to learn Maya Tz’utujil, and although I learned most about the people and their language, I left the country with a greater historical, cosmological, and even numerological knowledge than I could’ve expected. Languages are much more than words, and this is especially true in the case of Indigenous languages. In this presentation, I will highlight the various reasons one should try their hand at an Indigenous language: to witness the dynamic of a bilingual environment, where the dominant and Indigenous languages combine, collaborate, and clash at times; to understand a minority community’s history and societal struggle to a deeper level; and to challenge the way you see, well, everything.

Visão do aprendizado de línguas estrangeiras — Jhony Andrade Valarezo

Nessa apresentação vou compartilhar a evolução da minha visão atual do
aprendizado de línguas como latinoamericano que pode ter semelhanças com
aquele caminho de muitas pessoas da América Latina e até do mundo,
dependendo da sua origem e percurso.
Com o objetivo de motivar um debate com pensamento crítico com respeito ao
aprendizado de línguas vou formular essas perguntas e dar também resposta
do meu ponto de vista pessoal: Como é que nós abordamos culturalmente o
aprendizado de línguas estrangeiras? Quais são os resultados que dão maior
gratificação no aprendizado de línguas?
Essa apresentação foi preparada em portugues como língua principal, depois
que essa língua teve um grande impacto recentemente no meu crescimento
tanto profissional como pessoal, além disso, vou falar umas poucas palavras
em espanhol, inglês, francês e italiano para me dirigir a comunidade de
pessoas falantes dessas línguas que deram cor na minha experiência humana e
multicultural.
Com a expressão “experiência humana” a intenção é de ressaltar o como as
línguas estrangeiras me ajudaram a impulsionar as minhas relações não
somente com falantes nativos, mas também com pessoas que nem falam a
língua x, ou seja, além de gratas conexões que eu teve a oportunidade de
construir mediante interações na língua nativa das outras pessoas, o uso do
português e até de outras línguas, dá certo maravilhosamente para quebrar o
gelo e adicionar alegría nas trocas rotineiras laborais e na vida diária com
pessoas falantes nativas do espanhol.

Latin and Ancient Greek prose inter-translation problems for intermediate students — Jay Wang

As many may already know, Latin and Greek are cousin languages in the Indo-European language family tree. With their profound cultural, religious, and administrative influences, these two languages have shaped almost every aspect of lives in the Mediterranean world, Europe at large, and later on to the entire world for more than two millennia. Being able to read and write in Latin and Ancient Greek were core skills that were acquired by school kids, government administrators, clergies, and writers of all kinds in many parts of the world for a long time even long after the end of the Graeco-Roman antiquity. Latin and Ancient Greek are in many ways both similar yet intricately different from each other. Being an intermediate student who wants to improve these two languages, I picked up the idea of writing short prose and translating passages between them as a means to improve my skills. A question sometimes comes up in my mind is what would it be like if the Gallic War was narrated by Xenophon in Attic Greek, and the Anabasis was spoken through the tone of Caesar? Translating between Latin and Ancient Greek is an arduous task that requires an ample amount of knowledge in grammar, vocabulary, syntax, and beyond in both languages. In this presentation, I will give a brief account of my personal experiences and struggles at these exercises with the intent of opening the conversation of translation exercises between various languages that are still alive or historical.

Reclaiming Someone Else — Derek Allen

Language is one of the most powerful vessels that humans possess to express their identity. However, what happens when your language is forcibly taken from you? What happens when your identity markers are somehow seen to be “at odds” with your language vessels? These all create the perfect storm for inner conflict and make discovering one’s true self seem like an insurmountable struggle. This paper sets out to establish how one can weather that storm by reconciling all the complex parts of their identity by way of language and heal wounds in the process. Through the author’s perspective, a vast array of topics will be investigated. Firstly, the cultural and linguistic background of African-Americans will be presented. Included will be discussions of how African-Americans’ ties to their continent of origin are tenuous at best and the implications of “talking white”. Furthermore, the topic of Iceland’s (the author’s nation of residence) homogeneity will be raised, specifically how Icelanders can be eager to assign those of foreign descent very specific roles that they are not to deviate from. In conclusion, the author will point out how the intersections of his African-American-Icelandic identity influenced his decision to research his genealogy and learn the language that was stripped from his family when they arrived in the Americas.

Hyperpolyglot Activist : Learn languages, make a difference': 10 mythes polyglottes — Carlos Yebra López

Parler plusieurs langues est une grande réussite que nous devrions tous célébrer. Pourtant, malgré les milliers de langues parlées dans la communauté polyglotte, les idées fausses abondent encore. L’initiative “Hyperpolyglot Activist : Learn languages, make a difference” est une initiative de sensibilisation du public qui essaye d’explorer certains des mythes polyglottes les plus courants, par exemple : que les soi-disant “locuteurs natifs” sont nécessairement les meilleurs quand il s’agit de parler leur premier langue, que seulement certaines personnes ont un accent ou que le multilinguisme est l’exception plutôt que la règle dans le monde. Ces opinions largement partagées sont remises en question et il est démontré qu’elles sont basées sur des informations inadéquates ou fausses, ou simplement qu’elles ne sont pas vraies. En fin de compte, en démantelant ces préjugés, j’espere faire de l’apprentissage des langues une pratique plus juste et inclusive.

The Aztec Pantheon and Ecological Sanitation--What Tlazolteotl Can Teach Us About Toilets in México-Tenochtitlán, Rome and the Cities of Today and the Future — Aldo de Paula Jansel, E.I.T.

I asked myself the following question: “How was the Aztec’s sanitation system?” In order to find out the answer, I started learning Nahuatl, the Aztec Pantheon and talked to Historians. A close look into selected codices revealed an ancient sanitation and values system practiced by the Aztec civilization. The results surprised me for their timelessness and applicability to today’s metropolises needs. Tlazocamati Tlazolteotl, Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli.

The invisible on display: creating museums of language — Grigory Kazakov

While museums of history, art and science exist practically in every big city in the world, language, which is an indispensable element of human nature and society, has hardly any museums devoted to it at all. Many languages, and with them their respective ethnic cultures, are facing the risk of extinction just as wildlife species. So, it seems only natural that museums of languages should be created to preserve and disseminate information about them. In connection with this, the question arises how intangible cultural heritage can be displayed for the public. In this presentation, I will discuss what a museum of language could contain and exhibit and what purposes it could serve. Mention will also be made of the few language-related museums that already exist in the world.

Why You Should Practice Speaking Even Though You'll Make Lots of Mistakes — Jonathan Huggins

Many learners procrastinate making regular speaking practice a priority. In this presentation, we’ll discuss ways to overcome the fear of mistakes, fear of embarrassment, and lack of initial of confidence in order to enjoy speaking, develop a regular habit, and become a confident speaker.

Teaching and Learning Languages in the era of Social Media — Anamaria Balaș

Social media language learning is a method of language acquisition that uses platforms such as blogs and social networks to facilitate learning the target language and it has helped to connect millions of language learners across the world. There are choices for each type of learner and teacher, for each level and budget. In this presentation, I would like to focus on how language enthusiasts can use Social Media to learn the languages they are interested in and how teachers can get closer to their students by using Social Media/Networks as an integral part of their work. For both, teachers and language learners, it is important to know how to find the topics and materials they are interested in whether we talk about blogs, websites, groups, or hashtags, how to connect with native speakers or people who are also learning the same languages, and how to create content. For most people, being able to communicate effectively is their goal when they learn a certain language however not all of them get the chance to use that language on a daily basis. Social networks help you to get in touch and talk with native speakers who won’t just help you with essential communication practice but will also expose you to new vocabulary, colloquialism, and cultural lessons you would normally have to travel for. Extra, as you start to make friends on these networks, you’ll have people to both answer your questions and hold you accountable during your learning process. For teachers, creating an online community of language lovers is a way of getting in touch with people interested in their services and a great chance to offer something to those who are interested in their work.

New Generation New Language — Fred Chen

What happens when the primary language of a family or a society changes from generation to generation? This can happen because of politics, education, immigration, and many other factors. As a 2nd-generation Taiwanese-American, building relationships with my relatives has required that I communicate in four different languages even though we are not a multi-racial family. To my generation I will speak English to my cousins who grew up in the US, and Mandarin Chinese to those who grew up in Taiwan. To my parents’ generation I will speak Mandarin and sometimes Taiwanese. To my grandparents’ generation I will speak Taiwanese and sometimes Japanese. A major reason for this is that my generation has been educated in English or Mandarin, my parents’ generation in Mandarin, and my grandparents’ generation in Japanese. This is a result of Taiwan going from being self-governing island, to a Japanese colony, to a territory ruled by a Mandarin-speaking political party, to a thriving democratic nation all in the span of a century. Meanwhile, some of my relatives have continued to speak Taiwanese through these transitions. From my experience, I will share about the challenges that result from generational shifts in the language of communication, and the opportunities that arise from being a polyglot partly of necessity.

Cómo las familias de idiomas están conectadas entre sí (y cómo se pueden conectar el vocabulario entre las familias) — Michael Campbell

En este discurso, primero veremos cómo evolucionaron todas las familias lingüísticas actuales a partir de un único evento humano de casi-extinción, siguiendo hipotéticamente el desarrollo de 30 familias lingüísticas a través del vocabulario clave, y luego seguiremos con las tendencias clave en las correspondencias entre sonidos y significados, en estas familias. Mediante el desarrollo de estrategias clave de concienciación, estos conceptos básicos pueden ayudar a aprender idiomas con facilidad y con más éxito en familias lingüísticas lejanas.

 

Este discurso es la culminación de una vida de aprendizaje de idiomas de todos los rincones de la tierra. Mi viaje políglota comenzó con el aprendizaje de media docena de idiomas romances, germánicos y eslavos, seguido de otra media docena de idiomas siníticos al principio de mi carrera. Desde entonces, continué aprendiendo la mayoría de los idiomas del este y sudeste asiático, sin incluir otra media docena de idiomas indígenas de Formosa. Además de ser ciudadano taiwanés, ambién soy el fundador del servicio de aprendizaje de idiomas, Glossika.

Incorporación nominal en los verbos del náhuat salvadoreño — Gary Ordóñez

Un análisis amigable de cómo los radicales de los sustantivos (y otros grupos de palabras) se incorporan en los verbos náhuas. Este fenómeno se dio mucho en el Náhuatl Clásico y persiste en las variantes vivas náhuas de hoy en día. Hablaré de cómo funciona tal fenómeno morfosintáctico, los cambios semánticos que tienen lugar, las categorías que se producen, la productividad y otros datos curiosos. Por ejemplo, tenemos el verbo incorporado shuchikisa ‘florear’ que se forma del sustantivo shuchit “flor” y kisa “salir”, donde existe una relación sintáctica especial y explicable. ¿Cómo saber cuál es su relación y cómo interpretarlo? Depende de factores como la transitividad y la idiosincrasia de la categoría formada. Daré ejemplos curiosos y veremos cómo el náhuat crea verbos para comunicar ideas de forma creativa.

Desde el hawaiano de Hawái al jerseyés de Jersey: travelling the world to support rare and indigenous languages — Emily Martyn

From Hawaiian in Hawaii to Jèrriais in Jersey, travelling around the world to work on language projects is a rollercoaster kind of a ride! I will share my experiences and insights from working with various indigenous communities around the world including how to navigate translation projects, pull off voice recordings, organise engaging language events and create exciting video content to support rare and minority languages. Featuring Ladino in London, Mayan in Mexico and Cornish in Cornwall, be encouraged by the exciting ways in which you too can get involved in connecting with indigenous communities and language activism during your travels, and prepare to be inspired by what you learn on your way!” (This bilingual talk will be delivered in a blend of Spanish and English. Don’t speak Spanish? No problem! All of the Spanish content will be accompanied with slides in English).

Schwiizertüütsch: The language you shouldn’t learn — Bianca Flowers

“Wieso?” was the most common reaction by native speakers. Why indeed learn Swiss German, specifically the dialect of Zurich, Switzerland, when everybody warns you not to even try? The reasons given included it’s impossible, there is no grammar anyway, just stick to High German. And yet… Whether by obstinance, naivety, cultural reasons or a combination of all three, Bianca still decided to embark on this challenge. She has both failed many times and decided it’s been worth it. As a first-generation immigrant, learning the local dialect has also been a means to explore identity in a country where both concepts are so closely intertwined. In this talk, Bianca will share an overview of Swiss German, why she was told not learn it, why she studied it anyway, and what she learned in the process. She will thus explore the myths and reality of barriers to learning a dialect, which can be a very different process from mainstream languages. In conclusion, she will share lessons learned for studying a local dialect and how they are relevant for anyone learning a dialect or minority language.

Codex — Osvaldo Alexis Zúñiga Elizalde

The topic would be a method codex-based to teach the Nahuatl language. By codex, I specifically refer to those which belong to the Nahua cultures, mainly Mexicas. The relevance of this, relies on finding a non-colonial way to teach the native Mexican language Nahuatl, through it’s original pictoric-writing scriptions. The relation between this language and its codex system is not like, for instance, the Arabic or French with their respective alphabet, since Nahuatl and most of indigenous American languages, are not alphabetic. The Mexican codex “códices” are mainly a graphic-sounding representation system, where even colors have meaning. The development of the Nahuatl language and its codex related systems happened through centuries on a shared culture and epistemology. One that has little to do with western dominant culture. Thereof teaching this language with western methods along with its cultural and historical fellows like the codex feels for me more coherent than teaching it entirely with western structures. Precisely because of the codex origins, they come to be an astonishing subject once the audience starts to see the whereabouts and the different way of thinking and representing reality on a culture that never separated painting and writing.

Descolonizando el español mexicano — Nayeli Mulato

The speaker of this talk is Nayeli Mulato, a passionate Mexican, who discovered her vocation by teaching her mother tongue while living abroad now with almost 8 years of experience she is always sharing her love for Mexico and Mexican culture. She believes a very important part of this culture is connected to the language, and also understanding the language we can learn a lot from our history and society.

Introduksion al Ladino (Djudeo-Espanyol) — Carlos Yebra López

El Ladino o djudeo-espanyol es la lingua de los sefaradim, los djudyos ke fueron arondjados de la Peninsula Iberika a la fin de siekolo 15. En este atelyer mos ambezaremos kualo es el ladino, de ke es diferente del espanyol kristilyano i kualo podemos azer para adelantar la lingua. Es menester saver un pokitiko de espanyol, ivrit o inglez (solamente una de estas tres linguas).

Introduksion al Solitreo — Carlos Yebra López

El solitreo es el alfabet kursivo ke los sefaradim (los djudyos arondjados de la Peninsula Iberika a la fin del siekolo 15) kulanearon en el imperio osmanli, mas ke todo entre los siekolos 16 i 20. Oyendiya muy pokitik@s pueden meldar o eskrivir en este modo de alfabet. En este atelyer mos ambezaremos kualo es el solitreo, ansi ke a eskrivir muestro nombre i alkunya en solitreo! Es menester saver un pokitiko de espanyol, ivrit o inglez (solamente una de estas tres linguas).

Raising Global Kids - Multilingual, Multicultural, and Multitalented — Tetsu Yung

Parents like me want our kids to learn languages so they have the potential to thrive anywhere in the world. However, in order to allow them to truly “connect” with other human beings, we are also raising them to become multicultural and multitalented. In global communication, if languages were the hard skills, then culture is the soft skill, and talents are the actual contents of the communication. Let me untangle that for your in this presentation.

How To Foster Multilingualism in Early Childhood Using Baby Sign Language — Pancha French

In my first presentation I proposed how to foster multilingualism in early childhood using the language-rich approach.
In this presentation I would like to expand even further the concept of language-rich in infant development by also utilizing Baby Sign Language (BSL) in conjunction with other languages. This truly is a multi-dimensional approach in terms of language learning.
The golden window of language acquisition is the time in the infant’s brain development that responds to sound 10 weeks before birth, learning the mother’s voice and the sound pattern of the language she speaks prenatally, up to the age of 3 and even up to kindergarten, age 5 where the brain grows up to 90% of its capacity.
My work focuses on this golden window because it has the singular opportunity to build a baby’s brain where languages become enmeshed in the wiring of the brain. When BSL is used with conjunction with bilingualism/multilingualism it facilitates comprehensible input as proposed by Dr. Stephen Krashen. Comprehensible input anchors the language during this profound growth that is hard wired for language learning.

Getting your momentum back to be the best you (and best learner) after a very long break — Benny Lewis

For many of us, the pandemic represented a giant spanner in the works of our life goals and projects, with many losing their motivation to take on projects like language learning. And this setback for reasons many can relate to can be even worse if you also go through other personal struggles when major life events get in the way. They can seep all your energy and motivation until your projects and learning stop completely while you overwhelmingly try to deal with much larger issues. So, how can you bounce back after such things derail your life and language learning projects? In recent years Benny Lewis has gone through clinical depression, a six-figure debt, a divorce, putting on a lot of weight, immense burnout and exhaustion, and ultimately, despite running a large language learning business, he stopped learning and practising his languages, almost reverting back entirely to monoglot. And all this *before* the pandemic made things even worse! Fortunately, he has found ways to completely turn his life around, tackling each major challenge, and is back to travelling the world full-time again with enthusiasm to use many different languages, conquering each of his major life hurdles, with an active study routine in place and grand language learning plans once again. In this talk Benny will share the greatest takeaways he has been able to absorb from this experience, to help those of you who may need to get out of a rut you find yourself in, as the world opens up again, so you can be more ready to be the best versions of yourself.

Renaciendo en un México antes desconocido tras el náhuatl — Antonio Mazín

Durante 15 años de estudio de entre 40-60 idiomas, y muchos años sin saber si en verdad me “sentía” mexicano y pasar por momentos en que no entendía mi propia identidad, pude decir, finalmente, que sí me siento mexicano; esto al comenzar a estudiar la lengua originaria del lugar donde nací: el náhuatl. Si bien la identidad es un tema completamente subjetivo en el cual muchos factores pueden jugar un papel sumamente importante, les contaré, a través de mi experiencia personal, por qué creo que es de suma importancia el proteger, aprender e impulsar el uso de los idiomas, sin excepción, pero sí en especial los hablados por las minorías y que son los que más rápido estamos perdiendo, tales como el emiliano-romañol hablado en Italia y San Marino, el uigur hablado en China, y por supuesto, el mexkatl hablado en México y El Salvador (náhuatl/nawat). Tras acercarme a la cultura y lengua nahua, he conocido un México que hasta hace un año me era completamente desconocido, y que es aún desconocido para la gran mayoría de quienes vivimos en el territorio mexicano. Escuchar y conocer el mundo desde la perspectiva nahua me ayudó a reenamorarme de México, y me enseñó a ver la tierra donde nací, a su gente y su historia desde una perspectiva muy distinta a la que conocía. Siempre he sido mexicano, pero tras estudiar mexkatl, ser mexicano se siente diferente.