Miguel “The Hitman” Attends Montreal LangFest: A Review And Experience


(I might lose people in including old 1990s wrestling phrases, but bear with me, it’s what will make this post fun! And if you remember who said/did each, cool!)

The moment I arrived at Montreal…and got out of the train station at Downtown…there just was that big need to stop…look around…and say…FINALLY, Miguel, HAS COME BACK, to Montreallllllllll!!!!!!

Yes, it was my 2nd time in Montreal, for a language conference that, over the course of one year, had undergone a transformation of sorts; a new name, new advisors, an additional day, and more starpower! The old North American Polyglot Symposium became Montreal LangFest, and it was 3 days of lectures and talks, of meeting more polyglots and multilinguals in our growing community, catch up with everyone who attended last year, and make more memories and eat more poutine. 😀 What made this trip more special than last year? Having more friends travel to LangFest with you, whether you knew about it or not!

It was the second part of a week-long trip in Canada, where I had traveled from Toronto by train on Thursday afternoon to get to Montreal. It took a few hours to get reacquainted with the city, but once I settled in my hostel, I proceeded to attend a get-together for LangFest attendees that evening. A good amount of people went, I caught us with fellow New Yorkers who drove from NYC that day, and caught us with other friends who we had seen recently and those that I have known. The event was part of a 3-day LangFest Pre-Party events organized by a friend of mine, and after catching up and meeting new people, I was off to bed to get ready for the great spectacle the following morning.

And then Friday, August 25th arrived! It was a date that some of us had been waiting for since October, when the second conference was announced. With minor problems caused by contact lenses, I was off to the John Molson School of Business building at Concordia University, where I also caught up with more friends that had arrived at night. I caught up with blogger Lindsay Williams on the registration line. I was shocked when I saw another New Yorker who I hasn’t seen in a while, and her student, and we made our NY group bigger at that point. And then the show started…

From left to right: Nicolas, Sabrina, and co-organizers Joey and Tetsu.
Two presentations and dinner later, we proceeded to an evening event of two special presentations titled “The Prodigy and The Professor” featuring the little Russian girl that captivated the world with her ability to speak various languages at a young age, Bella Devyatkina, along with her parents, which the mother Yulia gave a presentation on the hard work that she put in to raise Bella to be a multilingual. Then the second part was on Dr. Stephen Krashen, a professor who discussed with us the theory of using compelling and comprehensive input to be able to learn a language. I do believe in this theory, and in my experiences, I’ve used music and apps with sound bites to be able to take in vocabulary and learn words, and grammar comes afterwards. This night led to an embarrassing moment, where we got a chance to chat with Bella and take selfies and give her gifts, I also wanted to gift her my Bret Hart throwback silver “Hitman Shades” that I recently got and wore all throughout Montreal.

Former pro wrestler and Canadian icon Bret “The Hitman” Hart, wearing his signature “Hitman Shades” in the pink color.
A lucky fan gets his own pair of “Hitman Shades”.

After a few people getting their chances, and my friend Maureen Millward got to also speak with Bella, I got my chance to speak with her, in Spanish, and give her my shades…

Photo Credit: Maureen Millward
…or at least try to…she took them off, gave them back to me, and then ran away to a nearby adult on the side, and I was just left wondering what just happened…

The second and third days of LangFest had more presentations, which I enjoyed. And although I did not attend a dinner gala on Saturday night, a whole bunch of us decided to have Turkish food instead and went home after. On Sunday, knowing that it was our last day, it kinda ended up being Picture Day, as many of us took pictures with each other in between presentations. A few key things were announced: One, that the 2018 Polyglot Gathering is returning to Bratislava, Slovakia, and Two, prizes were given out, where fellow New Yorker Kevin Sun won various prizes (he has his own LangFest blog here ). And then came our picnic and our yearly pilgrimage to La Banquise, a 24/7 poutine restaurant labeled Best In Montreal, where our friend Jade led the European group of polyglots and the rest of us there, and later eating at the park, and then, having my plate of poutine tossed out, for the second year in a row :/ .(These things ONLY happen to meeeeee)

I have some favorite presentations, or at least some fun memories of them, at least from the ones I got to see. The first presentation was a film on conlanging, a concept where one creates his/her own language for a particular or personal reason. This was interesting in that so many people have gone on to make their own languages and even have their own conferences like we do. Jana Fadness taught us that it’s okay to hop on and off a language if you want to be able to do another one or do something else, which makes me a “multipotentialite.” 😀 Diana Skaya and Valentin Timoschuk gave us a history lesson about a little talked event that happened in Eastern Europe right before WW2. Tu-Anh Nguyen led a discussion on language teaching in school. Maureen talked to us about various existing dialects in Italy while Sabrina taught us how to say “Hi! My Name Is…” in Japanese. Richard Simcott gave us a background on the ideas and the places behind the Polyglot Conference.  Anja Spilker told us that along with our knowledge of various languages, we can do more to change the world. Paul DuCett explained to us that the Revolution of language learning isn’t in every school yet, but it should. Tetsu Yung explained the process of raising his kids to be multilingual. Lýdia Machová talked about the differences between learning a language for fun and learning a language to fulfill job duties as an interpreter. And Steve Kaufmann dove into why comprehensive input is good for language learning. I missed out on some people I wanted to see, but all I could say is, I didn’t make the schedule, and the cloning machine hasn’t been invented yet. 😀 Although, I’m left with a fun impression of the Spanish workshop that I couldn’t see where Spanish teacher Paulino Brener got his whole attendees to get up and sing in Spanish to learn the language. One participant wondered where was Paulino when he was learning Spanish in high school.

Other fun highlights outside the lectures include meeting several popular bloggers, some for the first time because LangFest was their first North American event, some because I haven’t had the chance to speak to them on previous occasions, and some who attended any language conference for the first time (Hi Eurolinguiste! 🙂 ). We also had the great opportunity to go to famed Montreal bookstore Michel Fortin to purchase language textbooks. That place is AWESOME! And of course, seeing the camaraderie among us was so special. For me, meeting the people was my absolute favorite part of these conferences. You have the opportunity to hear someone else’s story, their experience, and how maybe you can feel inspired by what they have been through, and exchanging language advice for whenever one tackles a language that another has previously done, and to just talk s*** with new people that you usually don’t see.

Maybe this post might also be a post to hype up the 2018 Montreal LangFest, but so be it. I already bought my tickets for next year, so you’ll be seeing me. If you live in North America, or may be around this continent or a nearby one in late August 2018, SHOW UP! Come by! It is a blast, you will learn a lot, and make new friends. It’s only been a month, but a lot of people have announced that they are also returning, but the program on speakers will be out in a few months. Will I speak? Will my friends speak? Who will speak in 2018? I just know, that I will do my darnest to get to Montreal in August 2018, and THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE, CUZ THE MULTILINGUAL BRONXITE, SAID SO!

And now, I leave you with, BONUS PHOTOS!

One English sentence translated into various languages by all these volunteers.
The picnic.
P.S. I may have quietly added a Twitter link for people to follow me in my main page, but the Facebook page should be coming very soon.




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