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Our August 2020 Event. Visual storytelling: Special 2-year anniversary event

Our August event was quite special as we celebrated our 2 year anniversary with presentations powered by PechaKucha. Drawing its name from the Japanese word for chit-chat (ペチャクチャ) PechaKucha is a presentation format with the aim to use 20 images each for 20 seconds. We had many language professionals tuning in on this lovely Friday evening.

Amazing presentations, great wine and nice view – what else do you need?

Emma Songeur’s presentation on “Connecting to your Voice”

On Emma’s talk:

We all have a voice and not many people even realise how important it is. Just a short muscle release before any chat or meeting can create more of a flow in communication. In 400 seconds, Emma showed us how important is to bring a deeper awareness of the way we communicate. The power of voice and really the power of listening: to others and ourselves.

About Emma:

Emma Songeur is celebrating her first year as an International Voice and Accent coach after studying her MA in Training Actors at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Originally a trained Engineer and with five years working across three continents in Strategic Purchasing for a multinational corporation, she brings a problem solving approach to her clients in any industry. Over the past 16 years she has taught many people languages and pronunciation: children in Sweden, business executives in London, refugees in Greece.

Since graduating she has taken the position of Lead Voice Teacher for the international actors at Regent’s University in London and this year designed and led a three year syllabus in freeing the voice, Shakespeare and Musical Theatre.

As Covid continues she will continue to Voice/Accent coach the international actors at Regent’s and seeks to support local communities and disperse Voice craft locally and internationally!

Adapting to Covid 19 in March 2020, she moved online with the students and developed her work coaching accents, languages and Business English online. This has been a great chance to merge her different areas of practice and support people to develop their career opportunities.

Ana Ilievska Završnik’s presentation on “Words as a mirror”

What is a word? What is a name? Can a word create an identity? Do bilingual people also have two countries, not just two languages? Do they belong more to their motherland? Does translation change the meaning? Ana touched these questions in her presentation based on her personal story, born in one and raised in another country, constantly asking herself about identity.

About Ana:

Ana Ilievska Završnik MCIL CL is a chartered Macedonian and Slovenian linguist – Language Specialist with almost two decades of experience, mainly in translating and lately more in teaching. She is teaching at UCL – SSEES and the Foreign Office. She is an avid student of languages. In her free time, she likes to read books on grammar, attend conferences, online courses and learn new languages. Currently she is learning Scottish Gaelic.

Hedvig Sandbu’s presentation on “The habits that shape us

Her Pechakucha talk was centered around practical aspects on improving your own habits in your personal or professional life.

About Hedvig:

Hedvig is a London-based linguist, certified Neurolanguage CoachⓇ, and Customer Success Consultant. Her mission is to help people develop lifelong learning habits to achieve their goals.

Hedvig recently contributed a short chapter in the book Multilingual Is Normal – an anthology of voices talking about talking, which includes personal stories of multilingualism from around the world. If you’re interested in buying the print or Kindle version, 20% of proceeds go to the charity Multilingual Matters.

The common theme that runs through her varied work week is a passion for helping people create positive change through habits, or as the business world often calls it, processes.


Mari Balsama Wilson’s presentation on “Explore work off the mat

‘Off the mat’ refers to the philosophical side of yoga as complete lifestyle and doesn’t stop once you leave your yoga mat. Taking your professional life off the mat, is to be encouraged to take time to reflect where we stand within the professional industry and to be flexible, having a flexible mind.

The mat is our comfy zone, while outside in the world there is plenty of space to explore and see where best offering our academic and professional skills and services. Making small adjustments to who and how we are that create a more productive experience for ourselves and those around us.

About Mari:

Mari Balsama Wilson is an experienced and innovative Italian & English media professional with sophisticated linguistic, localisation, trans-creation and communications skills. Mari writes for living but she is also supporting charity projects with her enthusiasm, where her knowledge is much needed.

Carole Shaw’s presentation on “The English, the English and English are the best”

“Now look here, you young whippersnapper, have some respect for the monarch of your adopted country. I know you come from a far awf place which did not have the privilege of being colonised by the British but, as you now live in Blighty, you must understand what our mother tongue means to us.”

You’re not really saying we should all be learning and speaking foreign languages which the non-natives speak? You’re not implying they’re equal to the Queen’s? Carole made us laugh for 6 minutes 40 seconds about how we should all be jolly well speaking the Queen’s. She didn’t hesitate when we couldn’t hear the background music – she just sang the song herself.

About Carole:

Carole Shaw runs Queen Enterprises to present her performing career.

After her success at Brighton & Edinburgh Fringes in summer 2019, Fringe World Perth, Adelaide South Africa’s National Arts Festival & Boulder Fringe 2020, she will be making a royal re-appearance in person at Brighton Fringe 9-15 Oct.
Her performance at The National Arts Festival is available to access online indefinitely and is a recording of her February show in Perth.

As part of her presentation she introduced herself as:

One is a nonagenarian, rather wealthy lady who lives in a large mansion in central London, for whose maintenance one employs a large body of servants. One comes from a time when there was a plethora of pink bits on the world map and everyone spoke the proper lingo, either King’s or Queen’s, depending on how far one goes. One will be leaving you in no doubt as to the superiority of the English tongue.

30 seconds to introduce yourself

To sum it up, we had 5 amazing presentations on different topics and we would like to thank our speakers that they were up for the challenge a PechaKucha style presentation sets.

After the presentations, the informal networking part begun with the 30 sec intro pitches and exchanging contact details. Gabriella started the Q&A about the presentations. A thorough discussion started about language and identity, based on Ana’s presentation. Not surprisingly, many language professionals are bilingual so many of you shared personal stories, the up- and downsides of being multilingual and its connection to social identity. From multilingualism we shifted towards the topic of accents.

Unfortunately, discrimination based on someone’s accent is very much alive -whether it’s native or foreign. This happens everywhere, from the workplace to the courtroom. If you want to find out more about this topic, check out The Accentism Project. Apart from giving a detailed definition of language discrimination, they’ve also collected research articles worth reading.

Thanks to everyone for your contribution to this special event and for the nice evening we could spend together, regardless of the time zones. The money we have raised goes to support Moorfields Eye Charity. Since the beginning we have collected £717 – every penny counts.

Stay tuned for our next event, which will be on the 24th of September! We’ll share the details soon. Until then, stay safe.

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