Language Show Live: What's New In Language Learning?

Last weekend I made my way down to Southern England to hang out with Lindsay and visit the Language Show Live in big London. Lindsay and I visited the big exhibition and ran into a whole bunch of other language bloggers, friends and people from the language learning world. If you couldn't make it, here are my impressions of the show.

language showlive

What is it?

The Language Show Live is Britain's biggest language-focused event, a sort of trade show about all things language with talks and taster sessions mixed in. It's held at the Olympia in London (such a stunning venue!).

Who was there?

language show live recap

The first stand I headed to was one entitled Welsh for Adults (exciting!), where I met a few wonderful people from Aberystwyth and Bangor who introduced me to the Learn Cymraeg app. At this stand, we learnt that the word “penguin” in English actually comes from Welsh (pen means “head” and “gwyn” means white).

Stand-out stands (hah!) for adult learners were our friends at Flashsticks and HelloTalk, along with Bien-Dire whose magazine I’ve reviewed here on the blog.

We got to take a close-up look at Linguisticator’s absolutely beautiful language maps, printed on light fabric and displaying an entire language’s grammar, essential vocab and rules. They’re a great thing to behold, so good-looking in fact that Lindsay was excited and wanted to put one up over her sofa. You can buy these from their online shop - the German map is here.

And my highlight of the exhibition was the discovery of Babel and Lingo Magazines. These magazines are not about language learning and other languages, they’re about linguistics. It’s my favourite academic topic, and I have never seen such a fantastic approach to writing about linguistics for a non-academic audience. In other words: This is a flipping interesting magazine!

Careers in Languages

The walk around the recruitment section is motivating and surprising each year. I met representatives of BAE Systems, SC Johnson, the British Army and the European Union. They all have standing vacancies for language graduates and represented the careers that are open to you very well. There was even a CV clinic so you could have your CV polished to perfection to get all those multilingual vacancies.

The Language Show Website has more information and a full list of all exhibitors for you.


Only one place to go after all that: THE PUB! Lindsay and I got ready for our little language learners’ meet-up. We were joined by Sionaid from Perfect English Grammar, Angelika from Angelika's German (get to know all about Angelika on Podcast Ep 15), Gareth from How to Get Fluent and Emma the Incidental Langauge Learner. It’s a great pleasure to be able to meet the people I see through Twitter all year long and I really hope that you can make it too next year.

At one point during our meet-up, one of England’s happiest families bounded through the door, greeting us all with lots of joy. They were Lingotastic, a UK-based company working on teaching languages to parents who have very young children. What a joyful bunch, check them out!

More For Adult Learners

Sadly, the neglected bunch were the group of adult language learners in the UK. There are a few courses that look really interesting, but most of them require a lot of travel, either to London or to in-country classes. It was very obvious that Welsh really stands out here as a government-backed initiative with affordable courses and universities offering free apps. Good on them!

If adult courses aren’t so popular anymore, then online study is proving the solution to our problems - are language classes dying for adult learners? What do you think?

In Conclusion

The Language Show Live was a great event as ever. I always love seeing the many products and new ideas out there. Creativity is definitely not dead in language learning and I saw some amazing products to put on my Christmas list. And as an online tutor, it's so awesome to see all the products out there for the classroom and for groups of kids.

The language diversity wasn't as big as last year, when compulsory languages had just been introduced in primary schools. This event was mostly aimed at the everyday language teaching world in schools, and the language diversity reflected that. Lots of Spanish and French, some Chinese, surprisingly little German, and a tiny but visible presence for Russian, Welsh, BSL, and Arabic.

Were you there?

Did you come to London this time? Have you been to the Language Show before? I'd love to hear what you enjoyed the most and which talks you attended.

Next year, the exhibition is coming up to Scotland for the first time.

Podcast Episode 18: World Views and Polyglots with Lindsay Dow

Episode 18 is packed full of language learning news and chat with Lindsay from Lindsay does Languages, my trusty and lovely co-host. I hope you'll join us for all the debate and learning!

creative language learning podcast 18

We discussed

  • A truly useful and helpful definition of Polyglot by Richard Simcott
  • What the Polyglot Gathering is and how it went down in Berlin in 2015
  • If a language you learn really makes you think differently, and
  • Whether Kerstin should make herself study more Russian or allow herself the fun of exploring a bit of Welsh

In Episode 16, I'm introducing our new co-host: Lindsay Dow from Lindsay Does Languages I’m bringing Lindsay in for more Creative Language Learning Podcast because she's just been so much fun for you to listen to.

Article of the Week

"How the Language you Speak Changes your View of the World" in the Independent

closely related Does your Language Shape how you Think? in the NY Times

Tips of the Week

Lindsay's tip of the week was tip number 1, of course because she is completely involved in the awesome Script Challenge this year. Unplug your computer, get a book from the library and write down those words.

1) Go Old Skool with handwriting

2) Use your internal thesaurus when you get stuck

3) Play video games in another language (here's a relevant article from Learn out Live)

Links for Episode 18 of the Creative Language Learning Podcast

This episode is brought to you by FlashSticks, the printed language learning post-its. Use code KERSTIN10 for 10% off.

The Best Language Podcasts when you need Inspiration

Before I moved to Lancaster I had never listened to talk radio. I moved in with my boyfriend in 2006, and slowly BBC Radio 4 became a part of my life. Talk radio stations bring shows and conversations that talk about the most important topics in our lives. A show to listen to while you wash up, a radio drama on your drive to work, a debate over coffee.

language podcasts

Of course, talk radio has moved with the times. Now you don’t have to tune in at a specific time and day anymore. The new listening trend to help you keep up to date is called podcasts. You can subscribe and listen to your favourite shows whenever you want them.

If you to learn more about how podcasts work for language learning, refer to this Fluent guide. Podcast production has opened up the floor to a new generation of people with something to say. The market for language learning podcasts is huge now, and you can mix independent shows with sophisticated leading media productions.

Get Language Learning Inspiration

It’s easy to find podcasts that help you learn a new language by demonstrating words and sentences, but did you know that there’s a new generation of shows waiting for you? These shows are not about teaching you an individual language, but instead they boost your learning skill. From productivity to learning methods, from careers to interviews with polyglots, these shows focus on making you a better language learner.

In today’s post, I’ll be listing five awesome shows that you should not miss out on. Subscribe to them in iTunes or download just one episode to try a new perspective.

The Creative Language Learning Podcast

Yes, it's Fluent's own podcast and I am so proud to share it with you. For over a year, I have been creating the Creative Language Learning Podcast. This podcast brings you fun discussions with interesting guests that I selected for their inspiring stories, fun approaches and unique messages. I like to talk to teachers and learners alike, and to find out what motivates them. At the end of every show, there’s also a cool little segment called Tips of the Week, where my guest selects the best one out of three fresh learning tips.

Since June 2015 the show has found a very special co-host in Lindsay Dow from Lindsay Does Languages.

If you want to try one episode out of my archive of 15, I’d recommend episode 5 which is one of my favourite interviews I've ever done:

Business of Language

language business

The Business of Language podcast is run by Tammy Bjelland, one of the most impressive ladies I have seen in this community. Tammy was en route to becoming a language professor when she realised that her heart was not quite in it. She went and changed her whole life by opening her own language school in Virginia. In her interviews with language business owners and professionals, Tammy wants to show so much more about the many opportunities that are open to language graduates.

If you have ever wondered what job you’re actually going to do with your languages, this podcast will inspire you. To just try out one episode, I’d recommend her very first episode where she shares her own story.

I Will Teach You a Language

iwtyal pod

Olly Richards from IWTYAL has been a guest on my own podcast previously and now you will get to hear from him every week! In Olly's podcast, listeners can leave a voicemail with their own dilemma or question. He then researches, brings in guests and answers each question in a 10 minute bitesize show.

All episodes are quick and Olly is fun to listen to, but here's my own tip:

  • Episode 30: Should you learn a German dialect?

Actual Fluency

actual pod

Guy from Denmark vows to learn 10 languages and podcasts about it - that's the premise of Actual Fluency with Chris Broholm. Chris stands out in his interview show for the incredible curiosity he brings to every conversation. I like listening to him and even working with him - check out our joint event Language Book Club.

Don't miss out the great episode 47, a solo hosted podcast from Chris where he talks about when it's all a bit more difficult than you think.

Language Mastery

Finally, there's Language Mastery, a podcast all about the routines and methods. John Fotheringham, the host of Language Mastery, has travelled the world and learnt languages in places like Taiwan, Bangladesh and If you're into a classic "Here's how I do it" story, I recommend you listen to John's interview with Luca Lampariello in which he details what works for him and how to become a successful polyglot. His website is also full of detailed product reviews.

Bonus: The World in Words

PRI's own language podcast is a wonderful addition to this list. It's produced in great detail and covers stories of languages all around the world. The one episode you have got to listen to is this amazing one about Utah's new bilingual education drive.

I hope you've found an inspiring new podcast or two in today's list. Please comment and tell me if you tried a new episode as a result of this article. Which one did you try? What did you think of it?

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent, the Language Learning Blog. If you are feeling stuck right now, why not subscribe to Fluent and check out our language book shop.

Which Language Should I Learn?

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So you have decided that you want to learn a new language. This is big. This will change your life. If you are wondering which language to learn, here is a little bit of help. Here are a few thoughts that you might find useful:

1) Ignore Thoughts of “Easy” and “Difficult”

Here are some common reasons why you might hold back from learning a difficult language:

The New Alphabet

You might know that my current language learning journey is learning Russian. But this is my 7th foreign language. Until I was 28, I never even considered learning Russian. I thought it was difficult. But then came my first business trip to Kazakhstan: A country where street signs look like this:

Kazakhstan street sign

No English! No Western script! I had to find my way around the streets, and it showed me just how quickly learning a new alphabet can be done. I had been scared of this all my life, and it turned out to be a really small problem.

The New Systems

Now, what about the fact that some languages are just naturally difficult or easy? This is partly true if you measure languages by how similar they are to English. You may find that the ideas listed in this graphic are going to work for you:

But if you have an understanding of the English grammar, you already have a basic understanding of language and you will very quickly find that your existing knowledge makes learning easier. Any langauge makes more sense once you know grammar.

The Bad Experience

Many people tell me that they are not interested in learning German or French because they had to study at school and they were bad at it. It is almost as if a bad grade in school was a message to these people, telling them that they are not allowed to try again.

If you have similar thoughts, please adjust. Language learning is not about how you did in school, or about what you found difficult when you were 13. Most adult learners now look at languages from a different point of view, and as a teacher I have often experienced that even the most basic knowledge of a language will be reactivated when you come back to it after many years. So in other words, if it was difficult at school you must not expect it to be difficult after school.

2) 1000 Speakers Is Enough

Many people decide that they want to learn a popular language spoken by many people everywhere. But did you know that even minority languages like Irish Gaelic or Maltese are spoken by over 100,000 people around the world? This means there are more people than you could speak to in a lifetime.

When you decide to learn a new language, choosing the popular language can help you find more native speakers makes it easier to find materials and fellow learners. But there are also advantages to learning the rare language. For example, native speakers will appreciate your effort so much more. Plus, rare languages can actually boost your career! My friend Mike is a native English speaker and found that his skill in Finnish helped him start his translation business in a smaller market and attract bigger clients a lot more easily. This would be a lot harder if you were working in a language spoken by millions.

3) Your Interest is The Best Guide

The first and strongest bit of advice I can give you is to choose a language that truly interests you. This matters more than the number of speakers, the career prospects, the difficulty or anything else. If you are fascinated by the desert palaces of Rajasthan in India, you should not be looking at learning Spanish!

Every expert will tell you that learning a language just gets so much better when you can make it come alive. Obviously, this means speaking in most cases. But even if a language is hardly used in modern times, you can still become extremely passionate about it. Latin learners will enjoy reading the smart (sometimes really funny) writings of Ovid, and if you are in Europe it will give you a new perspective on your own country. This can be fascinating and rewarding, and we haven’t even started to talk about how useful Latin is for learning Italian, Spanish, French, Romanian and so many more.

So, Which Language Should You Learn?

In my life, I have so far studied 7 languages. It never felt like a waste of time. Now that I am studying Russian I know that each and every one of the other 6 is making it easier for me. But the important thing was that I stuck with those languages, and I didn’t start more than one at the same time. My best advice would be to just make a decision and start learning. Stick with your language. If you become interested in a different one in the future, you have not wasted your time because language study is connected, and teaches you a new way of looking at the world.

Stop wasting your time choosing the easiest language, instead choose the most interesting one.

There is just one thing to think about when you want to learn a new language: You will learn nothing if you stay lazy. New languages are always a lot of work, and the only way to keep going is to motivate yourself all the time. This can be because of cultural reasons, but the interest in your own achievement is just as powerful. For example, I never learnt French because I wanted to move to France. But at the same time, I never gave up on French and I committed my time and effort. Now I am fluent in French, and still have never lived in France. French culture is not my passion, but being able to speak French has always been such a strong goal that I just kept going. The formula I would share with you is a bit like this:

Interest * (Commitment + Engagement) * Time = Fluency

If one of these is zero, you will not achieve fluency.

I hope this article helped you make up your mind. Which language do you dream of? What’s holding you back from studying it?

Further Reading: