Last weekend I went to Montreal to attend LangFest (Language Festival) where we had three days of language-related presentations and social activities with other polyglots. This year, I gave a presentation about the regional languages of Italy, focusing on those I had studied, Neapolitan and Sicilian, although I also talked about Griko and Algueres.
With three presentations running at the same time, it was often difficult to choose which one to attend, although all videos of the presentations will eventually be on YouTube. One of the most memorable for me was the presentation about the Romanian language. As it’s very similar to Italian, I can already understand some Romanian, but I can’t speak the language at all. We watched a video about some beautiful places in Romania and learned some history about the country and the language and then we had a short lesson. I also liked the presentation about the film “To My Father” by Diana Skye. It’s a 25 minute film in 3 languages: Polish, Russian and Ukranian and it is a true story that happened just before WW2.
Lindsay Williams gave a presentation on a subject that interests me greatly – learning small languages. Recently, Lindsay has been learning Guarani and showed us how to find resources for rare languages. I always like to hear stories about multilingual children and that’s exactly what we got from Tetsu Yung, one of the LangFest organisers. His three children are multilingual and it was interesting to watch videos to show their progress.
The social events are what makes LangFest are fabulous event. Before the festival opened, there were several events planned in Montreal such as tours and language exchanges. On the first evening of the festival, there was a special event called “Prodigy and Professor” where we met 5-year-old Russian polyglot, Bella Devyatkina and listened to a presentation by Professor Stephen Krashen about theories of language acquisition.
The next evening was our Gala Dinner/Party in a Japanese restaurant and the last evening was a Polyglot Picnic in the Park.
The next day, I got to meet some staff from Italki who already knew that I had just completed their Diversity Language Challenge in 11 new languages. I use Italki to maintain my higher level languages as well as to learn new ones. I can’t recommend it highly enough as it has changed my language learning so much so that I wouldn’t learn any other way now. If you join Italki as a new member you get $10 towards lessons!
My favourite part of the event was meeting my favourite polyglot, little Bella from Russia. She is 5 years old and can speak 8 languages very well. Italian is her newest language and she can already speak it perfectly, as well as English, French, German, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic and her native Russian. Her mother gave a presentation on how Bella started to learn languages as a baby and each year, she added two more languages, although Italian is now her favourite. I hope I can meet Bella and her mother again at one of the events next year.