The Language Show – The Language WAG’s Review

A long suffering Language WAG's account of the Language Show. My honest thoughts and comments for any other non-language loving partners out there!

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Hello! For anyone who doesn’t already know, I’m Nic (Sam’s long suffering wife) and I’m not sure if I should say this but…**clears throat**…I’m not a language learner or lover! (Yes, I admit it… I’m an outsider!) Actually, if it weren’t for Sam, I doubt languages would play any part in my life.  So, I never expected to writing about The Language Show… but here we are!

My language journey so far

My relationship with languages started (like most British teenagers) in a stuffy classroom with a used and abused textbook. I remember sitting in my German class cringing at the thought of speaking in front of the class, spending most of the time looking busy and avoiding eye contact with my teacher. I left school with a GCSE in German and languages never appeared on my radar again… until one fateful day when Sam started to learn Italian. Since then, my life has been bursting with languages…I hear Italian radio almost every morning, our bookshelves are full of phrasebooks and we have enough notepads and flashcards to build a house! But… I’m still not a convert!

I was also born and raised in the heart of the UK (the Midlands), near Manchester. My family and friends have a distinct ‘northern’ accent, for which I’ve been the butt of endless jokes from my southern friends, colleagues and husband (if you can believe it!). All other northerners will know exactly where I’m coming from! So, this has just added to my avoidance of speaking or even learning a foreign language. 

The Language Show adventure begins

Entering the Language Show and going to explore what they have to offer

Anyway, enough about my language baggage! When Sam asked me if I’d like to go along to the Language Show with him, obviously (as the supportive and amazing wife that I am…even if I do say so myself) I jumped at the chance. OK, maybe ‘jumped’ is a little exaggerated, but I said yes and that’s what counts!

I had no idea what to expect and so I made sure I took a book to read and podcasts to listen to. I fully prepared myself to be the bag carrier and tag along for the day! 

I’m a designer by trade and so I’ve been to design shows before and expected this to be similar. Just lots of people trying to sell me their products. 

I guess in some ways the Language Show was just that. We walked into Olympia West (a small section of Olympia Exhibition Centre) and we were faced with lots of stands, full of people with a course/app/product/service to share. 

We grabbed a map and did a quick loop around to get our bearings and that was it…I knew I wanted to know more about some of these people! I could feel the passion for languages, not only from the people exhibiting their work and companies, but also from the general public. So many people were buzzing around and having a great time. We flicked through the guide and starred the talks we wanted to see and then off we went. 

Not just an observer or bag carrier

Listening to a talk by The Intrepid Guide

Conversations were flowing and, surprisingly, I wasn’t left standing on the sideline, people wanted to know about me and how Sam and I work together. How design plays a part in language learning and what they had to do to convince me to learn a language. Ambitious, I know…Sam hasn’t even won that battle yet!

Everyone we spoke to there (and in the two full days we spoke to a lot of people) had a story to tell, some advice to pass on, a smile and a passion for what they do. Totally inspiring (even to me!). I felt like I was able to see this industry through my own eyes, rather than second hand via Sam. 

The atmosphere was great (especially on Saturday), there were cultural performances which I could really connect to as a none language learner. There were talks taking place all day in three separate seminar spaces, along with a piazza and taster classes, which you could pop in and out as you pleased. 

I found myself wandering off (leaving Sam to it) and doing my own thing. I never once pulled out my book! 

There were a few comments I have though…

The cultural performances at The Language Show were amazing!
  • It’s definitely not for kids – there were groups of schools kids being dragged along by their teachers but there was nothing for them to do. So, a few footballs were confiscated throughout the day, which was distracting and unfair on the speakers holding talks.
  • Make sure you wear comfortable footwear. We were on our feet most of the day. I wore boots and my little size fives were done by the end of Saturday!  
  • Some of the talks were a little ‘difficult’ for me. When they use the words ‘modal verb or past plural-ific tense’,I just switch off (then the flashbacks from 15 years ago in that German class come back to haunt me) and I just can’t follow the talk. My issue, not a criticism of language learning as such! 
  • The stands were mainly targeting teachers within schools and not necessary individuals. Although a lot of what was available was applicable to individual study.
  • There weren’t many products to buy, which surprised me (especially with it being… you know… That time of year.. Almost December.. Don’t make me say the ‘C’ word!) I think there was one or two book shops, a Spanish and a Japanese stationary stand and that was it. I felt like they really missed a trick! 
  • Finally, and this is a very big issue… if anyone has been following Sam for a while you will know how important food is to him (and by association…to me too!). There was one (yes… you heard that right … one) food and drink stand! I can’t help but think if they had food and drink tasters from different cultures it would have brought the whole place to life, just like the dancing did! 

My final thoughts

So, any of you learning a language and wanting to go to the Language Show (or any other language related event) then send my review to your spouse, loved one or friends.

To summarise… I had so much fun, didn’t get bored, met lots of interesting people, could have eaten more, learnt a lot about my husbands job, felt like a good wife (earned brownie points) and came home inspired to be even more involved in Sams fluency journey. 

I may have even uttered the words… we should go to one of the language conferences abroad! Ahh.. and so begins the life of a language WAG (Wives and Girlfriends… Think Real Housewives of Cheshire but for polyglots)!

I’d love to hear if you’ve been or have any questions regarding the show. If you just want to say hi, that’s great too! 

Until next time (if I’m ever allowed back on the blog)!


P.S. If you want to see what Sam thought about the show, read his article about it here.

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