The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #29 September / October 2017
Montreal LangFest 2017: Another blowout success
by Tetsu Yung
September / October 2017 | 

Now, where do I even start...

I’ll start with the conclusion. Montreal LangFest 2017 was P-H-E-N-O-M-E-N-A-L.

All in all, about 400 language lovers participated at LangFest 2017, and absolutely everyone had fun.

How do I know?

Participants enjoying the LangFest Kickoff Night

Well, direct feedback for one was overwhelmingly positive. The countless emails and Facebook messages from participants really gave us a warm and fuzzy feeling! Also, many people have written great reviews about LangFest 2017 on their blogs and other social media outlets. You can see a few examples here: Example 1, Example 2, or better yet, just search for #MtlLangFest17 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and see for yourself. But the most convincing evidence of them all? Within 5 days of this year’s event closing, we had already sold more than 70 tickets for LangFest 2018, which is almost a fifth of this year’s participation!

Child prodigy Bella Devyatkina having fun at the waterpark before LangFest

So allow me to give you a summary of what led to such amazing outcomes.

LangFest advisors Olly Richards and Steve Kaufmann

First, even before the conference weekend, many participants enjoyed the LangFest optional activities, such as the LangFest Kickoff Night in collaboration with Montreal Mundo Lingo, a walk up Mount Royal to see Montreal from atop, tours of Old Montreal or a multilingual night out at the famous St-Sulpice on St-Denis St. Our optional activities leader Sabrina Maheu made sure everyone enjoyed the city from various angles.

Organizers of the world's top language events on the same stage

While everyone was having a ball at the optional activities, I had the enviable task of entertaining Bella Devyatkina, an amazing little polyglot who speaks an astonishing 8 languages at the tender age of 5 years old. I showed Bella and her parents some hotspots in Quebec… well, hotspots for 5 year-olds, like the Bromont Waterpark, and other more traditional spots, like the Montreal Old Port and even Quebec City. While I was at it, I also got Bella some exposure on important Quebec media, like Salut Bonjour (every Quebecer’s morning TV show) and Gravel Le Matin (wildly popular Quebec radio program).

Bella Devyatkina doing the cutest selfie in the world

Then finally comes Day 1 of the conference portion of the festival, which began with a bang. Not expecting so many people since it was a workday after all, we were taken by surprise to see the long line up early that Friday, leading us to set everything up frantically, kind’a like making your living room look presentable with the guests suddenly arriving early. But the LangFest crew made it look easy, and had our participants settled in comfortably without missing a beat. To warm up the crowd, before even opening the conferences officially, we screened a movie about constructed languages called “Conlanging”, for which we received many wonderful comments from participants. So by the time we rang the opening bell at 1PM, everybody was already pumped. During the opening ceremony, we introduced the team, the LangFest advisors Steve Kaufmann and Olly Richards, our friends at Polyglot Conference, Richard Simcott and Alex Rawlings, and Polyglot Gathering, Lýdia Machová and Chuck Smith, and our sponsors, with italki as our partner. We also did a brief overview of the conferences and ended the ceremony with our sponsor uTalk explaining how to play the LangFest game, which is a social language trivia game developed through a collaboration between uTalk and LangFest.

Dr. Stephen Krashen awing the crowd

For the rest of the day, we had the privilege to hear talks about unconventional motivational methods, multilingual/multicultural life and relationships, Spanish from Argentina, workshops on Mandarin and Japanese, etc., before culminating with our special program: “Prodigy and Professor Night”, first featuring an octalingual (is that even a word?) performance by Bella, followed by her mother Yulia, who told us all about how she raised this adorable little prodigy. After we were all floored by our Russian delegates, Professor Stephen Krashen just proceeded to take us to linguistic nirvana with an amazing talk on the comprehension hypothesis versus the skills-building hypothesis. Which by the way was done completely a capella, with no Powerpoints and no videos. He had us hooked with just a blackboard and a few handouts. After that, it was lights out for everyone. Literally.

LangFest Dinner - earlier

Seeing a cheering mass of people at the Day 2 opening, we started to worry whether we could maintain their high from Day 1. But our incredible line up of speakers quickly showed us that we made no mistakes in our arrangements. I mean, where else do you have the opportunity to see the likes of Richard Simcott, Alex Rawlings, Benny Lewis, Olly Richards, Mark Pentleton, Lindsay Williams, etc. all in one day?! And the variety of the talks, something that many participants had raised as one of their favorite aspects of LangFest 2017 in our survey, ranged from the “best way” to learn languages to the makings of a language book, passing through swear words in Quebec, the latest in the world of translation and minority languages, all the while with great language workshops to choose from as well. Speaking of choosing, ironically, one of the major complaints we’ve had was the constant dilemma in choosing which session in the three tracks to attend!

LangFest Dinner - later

After another intense day of excellent talks to numb even the most dedicated of the language lovers, folks were treated to a wild sushi dinner party that… well… just take a look at the pictures…

And so ends Day 2, perfectly, making ourselves wonder what the morning jitters were about.

Panel discussion

The last day of the festival once again featured some great talks ranging from applying music theory to language learning, Esperanto culture, learning languages as a hobby versus using it professionally as an interpreter, employing au pairs as a means to raise multilingual children, compelling input, highly animated workshops, etc. In addition, we had some of our key speakers come on stage for an extensive panel discussion, allowing participants to ask all of their most burning questions directly to their heroes. As expected, we ran out of time to address all the questions due to the heated discussions!

uTalk game winners

Finally, everyone attended the closing ceremony, during which uTalk announced the winners to the LangFest Game. Congratulations to Carlos Castillos, who won a 1-year subscription to uTalk, and to Drew Wagner, who won a LIFETIME ACCESS to uTalk!!

Next up were our very own and brand new LangFest Awards, which were delivered by the LangFest Awards Committee, led by John Slocombe. The 2017 LangFest Media Award, which recognizes an individual or organization that has produced a blog, video, podcast or other form of media that has had an important impact on the language learning community, was awarded to Benny Lewis, who has for the past few years inspired us, informed us and, importantly, entertained us! Congratulations Benny!

LangFest Media Award winner – Benny Lewis

Next the LangFest Innovation Award was awarded to the Amikumu team. This award recognizes an individual or organization that has made a substantial contribution to the global language learning community with actions to inspire others in their language learning or by introducing or championing an innovative product, technique, theory or measure. Congratulations Amikumu for your ambitions to unite us through the languages we speak – or aspire to speak! And finally, the LangFest Award of Excellence was awarded to Steve Kaufmann to recognize him for the incredible contributions made to the language learning community over the ten years since he started his YouTube channel, which is now pushing towards 110K subscribers with over 1000 inspirational videos, during which time he also co-founded LingQ, a unique and innovative language learning platform. Incidentally, LangFest would also like to thank him for his valuable guidance as executive advisor to LangFest.

LangFest Innovation Award winner - Amikumu

The closing ceremony marked the end of the conference portion of LangFest 2017, but we had one last little activity left for our participants: The Annual LangFest Picnic at Parc La Fontaine! Very well attended once again, this year’s picnic went well into the night, with wonderful weather, great camaraderie and endless discussions!

LangFest Award of Excellence winner - Steve Kaufmann

Fully exhausted… I mean, exhilarated, after LangFest 2017, the team took a few weeks of rest, in order to restart the cycle nice and fresh. From experience, we know that we need to carefully set our pace so we don’t burn ourselves out or run out of time as we prepare LangFest 2018. The 2017 event has raised the bar once again to heights that appear mighty daunting right about now. But then again, that was how we felt after the event last year, and we still succeeded in pulling off yet another incredible event this year. So we are confident that LangFest 2018 will be amazing, although we don’t yet know in what way. We do know, however, that we want to make it even more interactive and social than this year. This is what some of the participants told us through our survey. We also know that we want to widen the scope even further than this year’s expansion, which included translation, film, social responsibility and multicultural relationships. Yes, language learning methods, minority languages, workshops, teaching, raising multilingual children, etc. will all still be part of the agenda going forward. But what do you think about such original subjects like languages in comedy, speech pathologies or any other unique topics? If you have any ideas, I invite you to please let us know! We also welcome ideas for optional activities before the conference weekend. And finally, if you are in Montreal, you are cordially invited to our monthly gatherings called the LangMinis (see our *Facebook page and *website for more info).

In closing, we welcome you all to join our year-long journey to LangFest 2018, which will take place Aug. 21-26, by following us on our *social media or subscribing to our newsletter from our *website. We also ask that you please help us spread the word on LangFest in any way you can. You can blog about us, tweet about us, post about us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc., with the hashtag #LangFest18. Furthermore, you can help promote the event with a unique promo code assigned to you, which not only gives your audience a discount on the tickets, but could even earn you a ticket and potentially even fund your trip to Montreal in part or in whole! If you do not intend on coming, you can still be compensated for every ticket sold with your promo code. For more details and your unique promo code, shoot us an email at

And of course, if you are interested in attending LangFest 2018, the tickets are currently on early bird sales. Please visit:

Hope to see you all in Montreal next summer!

Annual LangFest Picnic

Tetsu Yung
Co-Organizer of LangFest

*LangFest on the internet:
TW: @langfest
IG: @Lang_Fest

Tetsu is the co-organizer of the Montreal Language Festival and is passionate about raising multilingual children. He speaks 10 languages in total, 5 of which he speaks fluently, which are English, French, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish. He is raising his 3 children to speak these 5 languages as well. He is also the author of the book: "Pampers to polyglot: 7 ideas for raising multilinguals like me".

Montreal LangFest 2017: Another blowout success
Writer: Tetsu Yung
Tetsu Yung: All pictures of the LangFest and people
Petey: Montreal harbor at night

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.


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In this issue:
Main Contents
Letter From The Editor Letter From The Editor - Language Confusion
News Brief News Brief
Mark Your Calendar Mark Your Calendar
Stepping Up Your Language Stepping Up Your Language
Montreal LangFest 2017: Another blowout success Montreal LangFest 2017: Another blowout success
How Can My Study Book Be Monolingual? How Can My Study Book Be Monolingual?
Boredom And Classroom Students - A Teacher's Perspective Boredom And Classroom Students - A Teacher's Perspective
In Others' Words In Others' Words - Malachi Rempen
In Focus In Focus - Venice, Italy
Proverbs from the World Proverbs from the World - Finnish
Language Puzzles Language Puzzles
Where Are You? Where Are You?
Basic Guide to Dutch Basic Guide to Dutch
At A Glance At A Glance

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