Harry’s Time at the Polyglot Workshops
Harry joined us for the Polyglot Workshops in London and Valencia. This is what he had to say about his experience:
The Polyglot Workshops are an exceptional opportunity and offer the participant a chance to pick the minds of two of the finest language learners you may ever meet. Between them Alex and Richard have experience with 50+ languages and the knowledge they have gained over their many years of language learning is something you can finally have access to at these events. I experienced the workshops in London and Valencia. Now I will give you an insight into the format of the Workshops and to tell you why exactly everyone should experience such a day at least once!
The Workshop itself usually lasts from around 9am until 5:30pm and throughout the day you have the opportunity to not only listen to some inspiring talks on a range of topics, but also to ask any questions you may have about anything to do with language learning. There really is no limit to what you can ask throughout the day. The organisers, Alex Rawlings and Richard Simcott are at your disposal for an entire day and can answer anything from how to select suitable material in the target language to making that final step towards that C2 level you’ve been striving for for many years. In London they work alongside Olly Richards too, which adds another dimension to the day. Olly brings in a wealth of experience from his travels, learning languages and time at the British Council.
The day usually begins with half an hour of chatting amongst the group in order to get to know the other participants, although there are also usually drinks the night before which allows you to meet everyone (in London, check out the Polyglot Pub)! Following on from that Richard and Alex spend around 30 minutes finding out exactly what everyone would like to get out of the day. I found this session to be extremely important as you really have the chance to tailor the day around your language learning questions and as the group is usually not too big, you really know that you will get that personal attention you would like from such an event.
Even after such a short time there, I could tell that the general atmosphere of the day was going to be a very relaxed and friendly one, whilst also being extremely informative and beneficial for my language learning. Following on from the group discussion in which we told Alex and Richard which areas of language learning we would like to discuss, the two took it in turns to give talks on those very topics, taking questions at any time and tailoring the sessions around our needs. Between each talk there was a brief break, giving the participants a chance to have a drink and also chat with the two of them on a more personal level.
Throughout the course of the workshops Alex and Richard discussed overcoming the challenge of speaking the language, how to progress through the various levels on the CEFR scale, maintaining multiple language, reading effectively in a foreign language at every level and how to build your language learning routine around your life. Throughout the day we were also given questions by Alex and Richard which led to some group discussions and everyone was able to gain some valuable knowledge from each other as well as from the two organisers.
My personal favourite session over the course of the two Workshops was a talk given by Alex on how one can read effectively at the various levels. Alex gave us some extremely interesting tasks in order to emphasise how much we can grasp from context alone and showed us how easily we can pick up new words even if we initially have no idea what they mean. For example, we were given a Hungarian reading comprehension text in order to highlight how easy it can be to answer basic questions without having ever studied a language (yes, even Hungarian!) if you have the right approach. He also discussed various reading techniques we use daily in our native language, such as Scanning and Skimming, and then showed us how we could develop such techniques in a foreign language. Then, he spoke about what he considers to be the most appropriate reading material for students at every level, even showing how you can begin to read interesting texts at the A1 level in a language and more importantly, where you can find such material.
At the end of the day, around 30 minutes before we finished, Alex and Richard always make time for questions. Throughout the day you have the opportunity to write down any questions you have about anything you can think of related to language learning and place it on a table in the corner. Then, in the final session, all of the questions are answered, adding yet another personal touch to the event. I think all the other participants will agree that throughout the weekends, we all gained some exceptional insights into how we can improve our language learning techniques, as well as gaining some great motivation by seeing what others are doing around us!
I would recommend the Polyglot Workshops to anyone, whether you are on your first language or your fifth or more as you have the ability to not only hear some great tips about various areas of language learning, but also have your individual problems solved by some excellent Polyglots with a lot of experience.
You can sign up for our next one day workshops in London on 27th or 28th February now.