I have booked to attend the Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava, Slovakia at the end of May. The organisers have announced a 50 day challenge between now and the event to learn Slovak. Participants in this challenge will have to do a short presentation on a topic of their choice for 1-2 minutes at the Gathering and then answer some simple questions. Polyglot prizes will be awarded by the judges.

So, I have decided to join and I think it will be fun. Firstly, I hate going to countries where I can’t speak the language. The British have a very bad reputation of being monolingual and expecting foreigners just to speak English. The slang name is a “Brit Abroad” with the following meaning according to Urban Dictionary “An individual from the UK who travels to foreign countries with no intention of integrating with the culture there. Instead, they hunt down a full English breakfast, followed by a bar to watch football, 10 pints of Carling and a Sunday roast. Never attempts any of the language and is constantly ridiculed by locals who know they can’t understand one word they are saying. They sit on the beach in uncomfortable temperatures, wear no sun cream, a white handkerchief on their head and sit down to dinner resembling a lobster that’s been caught on the job. Such an individual can be mostly found in Spain in any location prefaced by ‘Costa’, the Algarve and various other areas that have been downgraded in order to make these people feel more at home.” I’d say that was a pretty accurate description and typical holiday resorts in the Mediterranean have a lot of these people, so when I travel to the Spanish coast or anywhere similar, the locals are shocked that I speak fluent Spanish. Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I never like to travel without even knowing small amounts of the local language so I wanted to learn some Slovak anyway, so why not take part in the challenge too?

My main method of learning will be with practice on Skype with native speakers on Italki. This is the way I learn best and I support the “speak from day one” method. I will also be using this website which has lots of content for various levels of Slovak. In addition to that, I have found a verb conjugator website and at the start of a new language, I like to learn the present tense of the most common verbs so that I can start speaking sentences straight away. I am also going to have a look for any YouTube lessons as I learn well from video lessons too. I need to focus much more on speaking rather than writing because the end task is all spoken.

For the rest of the summer I will be doing a mini project on Napoletano to help support my presentation about minority languages in Italy that I will be doing at LangFest in August. Then I will be learning some Croatian for my Croatia trip at the end of the summer.

There is still time to book tickets for the Polyglot Gathering if you are interested.

If you’d like to know more about Bratislava, there is a lot of information on this website.


Picture courtesy of the Visit Bratislava site until I can replace it with my own after my trip .