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What is the Polyglot Conference?

By Memrise Team

Memrise is proud to be the Platinum sponsor of this year’s Polyglot Conference in Reykjavík. We caught up with founder and co-organiser Richard Simcott, who speaks more than 30 languages, to find out what the Polyglot Conference is about, and who can attend.

What is the Polyglot Conference and when did it start?

I started writing on language forums online around 10 years ago to connect with other avid language learners. Around a year later a few of us started putting up videos, speaking various languages. The goal of this was to reach out to other like-minded people. It worked and the language community started to grow online quite rapidly.

After a few years of this virtual interaction with people across the globe it became clear that we needed to get together in person. It was quite tough to get across the idea of the Polyglot Conference, so I had to draw from my own experience of event management to set up the very first Polyglot Conference in a little theatre in Budapest in 2013.


140 people from the online community came together in Hungary for two days of presentations and fun mixing in person in the city. The atmosphere was fantastic and that spurred me on to continue.

Who is the Polyglot Conference for?

Anyone who loves language is welcome at the Polyglot Conference. The word “Polyglot” is a nod to the language community it grew out of.

Year on year we have more and more people coming, who have been learning one or two languages and just catch the language bug and get motivated amongst so many enthusiastic learners.

The great thing about the Polyglot Conference is that we change location and pick up a number of locals from each place on the way!

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Who will be speaking at the Polyglot Conference this year?

We have some great speakers this year, talking about regional languages (which we always aim to celebrate) as well as topics around languages and modern technology and the link between autism and multilingualism.

You can check out a full list of the speakers’ profiles on the PolyglotConference.com website.

What’s it like to watch something you founded grow into a large international event with sponsorship from companies like Memrise and the Erasmus programme? 

Humbling. I have been fortunate to get support from people who joined me in the venture along the way. Emanuele Marini and the Cutural Center of Novi Sad added some Balkan spice to things in 2014, having seen what happened in Budapest.


Ellen Jovin really changed gears for the conference with her hard work in NYC in 2015. I am very forever grateful to her for that. Alex Rawlings has since been my partner on the conference and we’ve taken the conference from there to Thessaloniki in 2016 and now Reykjavik.


Without the support I have received from these people, the many people from the community and participants who believed in the project and our fabulous sponsors, this would not have been possible.

I also owe a lot to Tamara Littleton, the CEO of the company I work for, The Social Element. She invested in the first conference in 2013 and has done so ever since. I am infinitely grateful for the support I receive from my day job to make this conference a reality.


Where will the Polyglot Conference be next year?

You’ll have to wait and see at the end of this year’s conference. We have the big reveal at the closing ceremony. Nice try though! 😉

pc17-aviThe Polyglot Conference will be taking place on 27th-29th October 2017 at the Harpa building in Reykjavík, Iceland, and is open to everyone who loves language. As proud sponsors, Memrise will be there in full force, with almost all of the company coming along.

Find out more at the Polyglot Conference Website.