Announcing Polyglot Conference Global!

Our History

Before the web and social media, polyglots tended to be solitary creatures studying on their own and pursuing what were often viewed as eccentric or inexplicable pursuits.

The internet changed that, by making geography irrelevant and uniting language lovers across great distances. Alongside readily available information about other countries and cultures, they now had direct access to native speakers and polyglots representing hundreds of languages.

New language sites and social media brought about the formation of a self-conscious, collaborative online community. In 2007, the first YouTube videos from polyglots began appearing online.

Group photo with people looking towards camera, smiling and gurning.

The first offline meeting took place at the Polyglot Conference in May 2013 in Budapest, Hungary, where language enthusiasts from around the world came together to meet. Many who had been active in the online language community were now together and able to share stories, discuss methods, practice language skills, exchange ideas and generally put faces to familiar names. Common reactions were excitement, joy and a surge of renewed motivation.

Meeting offline opened up the language-learning community to a new, wider audience for the first time. From that first event, the language-learning community of YouTubers, bloggers, teachers, translators, interpreters, writers and entrepreneurs has continued to grow and flourish. Each year more people who love language come together at our international events to raise the quality of their learning experience and—by extension—the profile of polyglottery worldwide.

Group photo of people looking twards camera. People in front holding white letters to spell Novi Sad

The second Polyglot Conference in Serbia in October 2014 was hosted by the Cultural Center of Novi Sad. That too was a huge success and led to the decision to take the Polyglot Conferences out of Europe for the first time.

Woman smiling in front of theatre with Polyglot Conference NYC 2015 in lights

In 2015, the Polyglot Conference made its first trip to the United States, landing in New York City, one of the most multilingual cities in the world, and drawing a whole new crop of American polyglots to this flourishing global community. Co-organized with local linguaphile Ellen Jovin and attracting 450 participants, the 2015 conference was the largest and most high profile event ever held in polyglot history.

Thessaloniki group photo

In 2016, the Polyglot Conference returned to Europe and was held in the beautiful coastal city of Thessaloniki, Greece. The conference celebrated the city’s colourful multilingual heritage and present. Participants got the chance to share their love for languages with beautiful sea breezes carrying the whispers of the many different languages that have called the city home.

Richard and Alex on stage announcing the 2017 Conference will be in Reykyavik. Slide on screen behind them showing Northen Lights.

We returned to the continent of North America in 2017 just about, by taking the conference to Reykjavík, Iceland – the perfect place to meet between Europe and North America. The themes of the conference celebrated the languages, literatures and cultures of the North, highlight the pressures of globalisation on smaller and indigenous languages as well as exploring the multilingualism and autism.

Group photo in Ljubljana’s Grand Hotel Union ballroom

In 2018 we took the Polyglot Conference to Slovenia’s capital. Ljubljana’s Grand Hotel Union boasts a strong tradition in hosting international conferences in the heart of the city centre. We celebrated our host country’s diversity, as well as the diversity of our participants under the umbrella of our conference theme for 2018 “Diversity in Language”.

Japanese Taiko drummers on stage performing at the 2019 Conference in Japan

Last year we took the Polyglot Conference to Fukuoka, Japan. Fukuoka has a very authentic Japanese feel to it and many interesting and exciting places to explore for participants to really experience its people and culture. We celebrated our host country’s languages and cultures, as well as the wider region too. We joined in the UN’s goal of making 2019 all about being the “International Year of Indigenous Languages”.

Join us this year and become part of the story!

Watch Talks from Previous Years:

Fukuoka 2019

Ljubljana 2018

Reykjavik 2017

Thessaloniki 2016

New York 2015

Novi Sad 2014

Budapest 2013