Language experts: a rare breed

I was in Germany last week to present busuu at a conference in lovely Cologne. The conference attendees were language experts who work for large German companies, advising on and implementing language training programs to employees.

It was refreshing to attend a conference which was populated by people who know at least as much – and in some cases a great deal more – than me about language teaching and learning. It’s often oddly dissatisfying to present your product to people who are impressed by the mere fact that a language course can be squeezed on to an app, or that voice recognition technology is a thing that exists. The questions I received were great:  detailed, highly engaged and perceptive. I came away with some useful feedback and recommendations for a couple of books and papers to read – definitely a first.

Back in London, my team are somewhat resigned to the fact that, as language experts in the UK, few people other than polyglots and other language experts are interested enough to engage with our work below a surface level. That’s why it’s so important to have conferences like IATEFL and InnovateELT to attend, and to have a good network of peers on Twitter to share ideas with. The optimist in me hopes that, post-Brexit, there might be a resurgence of interest in language learning in Britain. If you want to make a defiantly pro-Europe move, learning an additional language seems like a good one.

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