By: Faye Lee
Last weekend, 17-19th October, we at Linguisticator had the exciting opportunity to attend the Language Show Live at the London Olympia. This event runs annually and attracts language professionals and language learners from all over the country to see what developments have taken place in the field over the last year. It was our first time attending the show and we were excited to be able to get out there amongst other language enthusiasts and speak about what we do.
It was a lot of fun decorating our booth with our maps and I, for one, couldn't help but smile every time I saw a visitor stop in their tracks and say "This is incredible!". As developers, the staff at Linguisticator do most of our work from behind the scenes and our contact with our users can at times feel rather limited, so it was a great pleasure to be able to meet other people with an interest in languages and to be able to discuss our programme with them in such an ideal setting. It was a great opportunity for us to be able to get some face-to-face feedback about our courses and our maps and the comments ranged from the so-excited-I-could-burst, to the skeptic, to the "Is this a tea-towel?".
Some of the most common reactions surprised us. For instance, many people looked at the maps and said "It's too difficult for me", or "My brain doesn't work like that." These were easy concerns for us to dispel. It was simple to explain that what on first glance could seem like a giant task, was actually comprised of a series of completely manageable chunks of linguistic structure, that, once internalised, pave the way for rapid and accurate retention of the grammar.
I like to think of learning a language as a journey. For some people, it seemed, it's a more comfortable experience to know the destination - language fluency - but to only see down the road on that journey as far as the next lamppost, because the thought of that long trip to proficiency is naturally daunting. However, with our map, I feel like the process is a little less scary. So it seems like the road to language fluency is a long way, but isn't it reassuring to pass a sign every now and then saying "30 miles to go, 25 miles to go, 10 miles, 5..."? For me, the journey seems more manageable, knowing how close I am to my destination, rather than wandering in the right direction, but having no means of truly assessing how far is left to go. When the map is put into context, as the journey and the destination all at once, suddenly people could see the benefit of such a process and were excited by the potential they could see in the map. We were even featured in The Guardian newspaper! Read about the Show highlights here.
People were not just excited by our current products, either, but asking us when our Hungarian Map will arrive, or our Japanese, or our Swedish... It was very rewarding for us as a team to see the interest our courses were generating and to feel a communal sense of anticipation for what will come next.
As well as representing our own services at the Language Show, it was wonderful to be able to see all of the other companies in attendance, such as our stall neighbours, 5-a-Day Fitness, who teach children foreign languages through dance instructions, as well as some pretty huge language organisations, such as the British Council and European Union.
It was a satisfying experience to spend a weekend away from the office and amongst so many other linguists, as sometimes when you are lost in the grammar of a language, you can forget about that initial excitement you used to feel at the prospect of getting just that little further in learning a new language, or meeting a native speaker of a language which interests you, or picking up a travel brochure and imagining the possibilities lying in wait abroad. It was rewarding to see our work in context; not just as a process that is academically fulfilling, but as something that is opening doors for our learners into new cultures and experiences.