Just over 16 months ago, Lindsay Williams (my podcast co-host) and I were chatting on Skype. It was October or November. I remember the day turning into night at what felt like 4 in the afternoon on my side of the world, while Lindsay was getting ready for her day.
We were chatting about a few ideas for the future, when she mentioned this one thing that made my heart explode with excitement.
“So I’m thinking of maybe doing a one day event on International Women's’ Day with loads of female language people speaking...wouldn’t that be cool?! I can’t do it this year though because I’ll still be away but…”
I didn’t need to hear any more. I was like STOP IT RIGHT THERE I AM IN!!
Lindsay had just spoken an idea that had been growing in my brain, too. And I’m not a patient kinda girl so I wasn’t going to let Lindsay’s round-the-world trip stand in the way of an amazing idea. We contacted Shannon Kennedy and asked “would you maybe be interested…”.
Shannon was a yes. The organising team was ready, and few months down the line we shared the news with the world that we’d be hosting Women in Language in March 2018.
The event was a massive success! (Read my full debrief if you want to know what I learnt and how we pulled it off.)
Over the last year, we continued to work on our list of speakers and our background preparations. And now, we’re ready to bring you WOMEN IN LANGUAGE 2019!
If you were at last year’s event, you’ll know what to expect.
But if not, I know you’re curious. I asked writer Cassie Wright who was at Women in Language to share what it was like for her. Here’s Cassie’s story:
Conference Experience: What Cassie Thought Of The Language Conference
Once, when I was 9 years old, I tried to tell everyone I knew that in Finnish, you could make whole sentences into one super long word.
How awesome, right?
Unfortunately, my school friends were a lot less enthusiastic about my latest language tip. In fact, I was surprised to find that they didn’t really care at all.
Even at that age, I had two binders dedicated to languages, each full of vocabulary: one labeled ‘Finnish’ and another labeled ‘Japanese’. I was fascinated by languages and it stood out just as much as my mop of curly hair in a classroom full of long, straight locks. I was a language nerd at heart, though no one else seemed to have the same sort of passion.
Despite the fact that my friends didn’t care about my Finnish facts, I was proud of my attempts and motivation to learn. I never got very far, but I was always confident in my abilities.
"Japanese?" People would ask, “Isn’t that hard?”
I would just nod and grin.
But eventually, going it alone became too much of a challenge and the things other people told me were more important took over.
Still, languages followed me through both high school and college. Without fail, each time I tried to start again, I couldn’t find the drive to keep going.
Then, years later when I tried once more, I found an entire blog dedicated to learning languages. It was a lot different from the sites I’d seen before that featured big name polyglots and sold all kinds of "easy tricks".
That’s when I came across an announcement on my Twitter feed for Women in Language.
It caught my attention immediately, not only because there were so many women prepared to talk about their language experiences, but because it was all online. The only thing I needed to attend was a ticket for the event, which meant the cost of plane rides and hotels wasn’t an issue.
When I bought my ticket to Women in Language that day, I didn’t realize how much it would change my approach to language learning.
It’s not just about languages. It’s about representation.
Learning a language is the goal, but how do you do it with a busy schedule? Kids? How do you find the courage to pick up and move to another country? How do you immerse yourself when that’s not possible?
How amazing would it be to learn about those things from someone in your place: women of all different races and backgrounds with a variety of experiences.
This is what I really gained from Women in Language and it gave me a sense of validation.
Here were a number of talented women who gladly shared their knowledge and ideas. I saw in them my own language learning dreams, only this time, it wasn’t some unrealistic goal.
In this community of multilingual women, I felt I could proudly hold onto my vocabulary-filled binders with my mess of curly hair and say, "Hey! I’m one of you, too. I see myself here."
Women in Language brings that community of learners forward and inspires them to keep going.
More than anything, it’s a breath of fresh air for those who need a place to share a common interest and belong.
This year, we are proud to announce that there are EVEN MORE presentations at Women in Language. There’s so much more happening – including 2 Panel Discussions and a chance for YOU to present, a prize draw worth over $1000, and daily fun activities for everyone.
Ready for it?
Women in Language is happening live and online over 4 days from Thursday 7th March to Sunday 10th March 2019.
If you can’t make it on those dates, you can catch up at any time since your ticket purchase gets you access to all recordings for as long as you like.
Everyone is welcome (the ‘women’ in Women in Language only refers to the line-up of speakers!) and we’d love to have you join us for the live event. Click below to get your ticket now for Women in Language 2019.
Are you coming to Women in Language? Leave a comment below and let me know!