My comprehensive Polyglot Gathering Berlin trip report – part 8

Welcome to my Berlin trip report. I decided to write a very comprehensive trip report, in an attempt to try and recreate my own participation in the event. This way my hope is that people who were unable to attend can at least get a feel for just how incredible the event was. This is part 8 of a multi part story and you can expect a new chapter every other day.

PS. I apologize for not having more pictures, I usually don't take many photos when I'm travelling around.

Previous Parts: 

Part 1 – Departing

Part 2 – Arriving

Part 3 – Touristing

Part 4 – The Day Before

Part 5 – The event begins 

Part 6 – The First Day Ends

Part 7 – Conference day two

Part 8 – Conference day three

By day 3 I realize that I made a slight mistake in my part 7 trip report, I did not mention that I did in fact talk to both Gavan Fantom, a native esperanto speaker, and Niels Iversen a fellow Dane who has a learning method that is unlike many others. Our talk became the Actual Fluency Podcast Episode 18, so feel free to listen to that during or after you read this, it’s a very refreshing perspective on language learning. Talking to Gavan was also incredibly interesting because I had never even considered the possibility that somebody would be brought up with Esperanto first, but I suppose like Gavan says: If you are living in England you will pick up English anyway. The results of that talk became episode 16, check it out here.

Going back to the actual day 3 it was Tuesday and the day of my own presentation. Before that though I recorded some interviews with Robert Bigler and Claudio Spadini, both will be available soon from the website. I had a minor problem with my presentation: Danish Basics and that was that I had not finished the presentation yet. I had ran out of time back home and I was unable to find a suitable working position whilst traveling to Berlin, so I had put it off a bit. This meant that I had to skip a few talks, again, but I was happy with the end result of my talk. One talk I did go to was from the same Claudio Spadini, on how to focus: How to stop managing time and start managing yourself, or something along those lines. As the avid reader might know I have had incredibly big problems with focusing, and I’m sure a lot of people out there do as well. Therefore I simply made sure to attend the presentation and Claudio did a great job of wrapping up productivity tips and tricks into a well-organized package that I felt I could take away. I immediately recognized that I’m not good enough at eliminating distractions whilst working. So something I’ve started doing since I returned home from Berlin is to write in the morning, just after I wake up. Just 1-2000 words depending on what I feel like. Right now the obvious candidates have been to write these trip reports, and when they are done hopefully I can channel the same effort into other blog posts or articles.

The talk came around and although the room was not as packed as my good friend Chris Huff’s introduction to Toki Pona, there were still about a dozen people interested in hearing what I had to say about Danish. I had made a great interactive presentation with video and audio clips to give examples of just how different Danish regional accents differ, but alas as seemingly often happens the audio would not play and my audience was robbed off these parts. One thing I really enjoyed doing was teaching them how to pronounce the very hard sentence: Rødgrød med fløde. This is a sentence foreigners will get thrown in their faces when arriving, so I figured I might as well teach it. I asked everyone to stand up as I walked around correcting people – to some extent, Danish pronunciation is not easy and if you have trouble there’s only so much a 45 minute introduction can do for you. Everyone was happy, in spite of the technical glitches, and people who I respect very much told me I had done a good job. Mission successful. Now the anxiety about presenting was over and I could totally focus on the event and the interviews.

Again I must apologize if I am mixing up the days, but here now is when I think I had the opportunity to interview Benny Lewis and his girlfriend Lauren. Since Benny had been interviewed so widely lately I thought that the storyline of Lauren learning Esperanto was a bit more timely – sorry Benny! They are the nicest people I know, but wow was I nervous. Sitting down in a small hotel room with one of the biggest inspirations for starting this blog is something else. Not to mention that Lauren is highly educated in rhetorics so I had to be particularly careful how to conduct myself in order to come across as professional as possible. We had a great talk and although I think I could have done way better, I was still happy with the end product. I think we really tackled the issues of learning a new language, learning as a couple and being a language coach rather than a tutor with your partner. If Benny or Lauren is reading this, thank you for taking the time and thank you for being there in my time of need, way before Berlin.

The rest of the evening I spent in the rooftop bar socializing and hanging out – there was some kind of Quiz going on, but my mind was already exhausted so hanging out in the bar and getting a few very cheap bars seemed like a more viable option. As I walked through the main room I saw “BIRD” on the big screen and teams taking turns saying bird in many languages. My regret of not participating was brewing, but when I came back a full 45 minutes (and two pints of beer) later and they were still on bird I suppose I was okay with not participating anyway. I guess it is a decent pastime but for me it would probably be a bit too boring. If I had to run that competition I would just give teams a sheet of paper and give them 2 minutes to write down as many as possible. The team with the most unique translations wins.

I think I also briefly visited the Gufujo, but I was too tired to communicate meaningfully so I headed to my room for an early-ish night. Only to be awoken by Chris H at like 3 am, oh well. I can sleep once I return to Denmark.

Next: Part 9