Last year was a very eventful year in the language community, as well as for my own travels. The year began with a small Language Meet-Up in Edinburgh which will be followed by the bigger, more formal Edinburgh Language Event, which I am co-organising and is sponsored by the Polyglot Conference and taking place on 29th Feb-1st March. For more information and to buy tickets, check out our website.
The Spring began with a short trip to Egypt where I could practise my Egyptian Arabic and our excellent tour guide, Yasser, was very happy to help me with that. The Egyptian people were some of the friendliest I have ever met on my travels. You can read more about that trip and how I learned Egyptian Arabic on this blog post.
I went on two courses about languages closer to home. First, I attended an Old English course at the British Library for the weekend. This was a lot of fun trying to translate Medieval Manuscripts especially the riddles! I hope to follow that up this year by attending the intermediate course. You can find out more about the Old English courses in London here. At the Edinburgh Festival in the summer, I attended a Scots Writing Course, aimed at native Scots speakers who have never been taught how to write their own language (like me), due to our education system in the past. Following that, I realised there were more events promoting Scots and I attended the very first Scots Language Awards in Glasgow.
I also launched my own Scots course with LanguageBoost where you can learn 500 words and phrases in Scots. It comes with audio and built-in Anki flashcard decks. You can find out more on this post.
In the summer, I travelled to two new countries – Ukraine and Belarus. I took italki lessons in Russian to prepare me for these trips. My Russian is still at basic level so I don’t actually count it as one of the languages I “speak” yet, but I certainly was able to cope on a tourist level for my trips. I’d highly recommend both places and I have written about them both here and here.
Autumn was the time for the annual Polyglot Conference and this time, it took place in Fukuoka, Japan – another new country for me. I went to Japan for two weeks to travel around various places before attending the conference. I visited Tokyo and Kyoto before going to Fukuoka. With the Conference moving to Asia for this first time, it meant a lot we had a lot of new participants and a focus on Asian languages. In addition, I gave a presentation about Scots and Gaelic, the history, revival, culture and I taught some phrases and expressions in both languages. Look out for the video appearing on the Polyglot Conference YouTube channel.
To end the year, which was the official UN Year of Indigenous Languages, I wrote a special blog post dedicated to indigenous languages and how some of my friends within the Polyglot Community have helped promote them. You can read that blog post here.
New Year Plans
This year, my biggest trip will be to Argentina, where I will spend two weeks travelling. I’ve been able to speak Spanish fluently for many years now, so it’ll be nice to travel somewhere where I don’t have to learn a new language beforehand. I’ll also be practising my Greek in Athens, Italian in Orvieto (a trip to discover the Etruscans and their ancient language), French in Provence, Welsh in Anglesey and I’ll be learning some Turkish in the summer in preparation for my Turkey trip in September.
Closer to home, I’ll still be promoting my own language, Scots, as well as continuing with my Welsh studies and starting a beginners’ Irish course in January. The Irish course is an online/live classroom course with College na Rinne and the Welsh is one-to-one skype lessons with Coleg Gwent.
What are your language and travel plans for the coming year?