Multilingual Montreal

Yesterday was the second and final day of the symposium. Although it was only two days, it felt like more as we packed a lot into those days. There were some very interesting talks, including one about raising children multilingually, one about being a polyglot in Latin America, and another about the linguistic diversity of one of the colleges here, were students and staff speak some 83 languages and dialects between them.

Those were the ones I went to. There was also talks about using social media and video to learn languages, living abroad, and introductions to Wolof, Spanish, Scottish Gaelic, Greek, Italian and Papiamento.

Dr Conner Quinn, a linguist at University of Southern Maine in Portland, gave a very interesting and useful talk about language and linguistics. He told us that in order to pronounce a language in a native-like way, you need to pay attention to its rhythm and melody (prosody), and start by trying to imitate this. Then when learning pronunciation, its best to learn combinations of sounds, especially when learning a tonal language like Mandarin or Vietnamese. For grammar you can memorise sentences which illustrate various grammatical structures. He also explained that language is basically about things, events, the relationships between them, and how they relate to the current conversation.

In the evening we gathered in Parc La Fontaine for a picnic, which was good fun. Today I’m meeting a few other polyglots and visiting some of the book shops that have lots of language-related books and courses.

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