15th April 2021 • 10:00 - 19:00 CET

Chatterconf 2021

by chatterbug

An all day virtual conference all about language learning and technology!


The Speakers

  • Geoff Stead


    Geoff is the Chief Product Officer (CPO) at Babbel, leading the digital learning experience for millions of language learners. He is endlessly curious and enthusiastic about the power of combining good people, and smart technology to transform global learning. He has built some weird and wonderful learning apps from Cape Town to Cambridge to California

  • Kirsten Campbell-Howes


    Kirsten is the Chief Learning Officer at Busuu, where she runs the team of learning designers who create Busuu's courses, and the teacher operations team who look after our faculty of over 10,000 language teachers worldwide. Kirsten has spent over 20 years working in the field of digital language learning, creating websites, apps, video games and VR experiences for companies like Pearson, EF and Macmillan.

  • Ed Cooke


    Ed Cooke is the co-founder and CEO of Memrise and an author, speaker and expert on memory and experiential learning. He competed for five years in World Memory Championships, where aged 23 he earned the title of Grandmaster of Memory.

  • Scott Chacon


    Scott Chacon, Chatterbug CEO and co-founder, is a software developer, entrepreneur, and aspiring polyglot. Scott co-founded GitHub in 2008 and helped grow it into one of the world’s most important software companies.

  • Belen Caeiro


    Belen Caeiro is Director of Babbel Live at Babbel. She leads the team developing and rolling out Babbel Live, ensuring feature adoption and product-market fit.

  • Gabriel Wyner

    Fluent Forever

    Gabriel is the founder and CEO of Fluent Forever, is a best-selling author, opera singer and polyglot based in Chicago, IL. After learning four languages in under two years, Gabe’s book “Fluent Forever: How to learn a language fast and never forget it” became a national bestseller.

  • Tobias Dickmeis


    Tobias is the co-founder and Chief Product Officer of the language exchange community Tandem, based in Berlin/Germany. He is a serial entrepreneur with a background in media science.

  • Aline Sara


    Aline Sara is the co-founder and CEO of NaTakallam, an award-winning social enterprise that connects refugees, displaced persons and their host communities with work opportunities in the language sector through the digital economy.

  • Felix Wunderlich


    Felix founded Lingoda together with his brother Fabian. Since the company's founding in 2013, Felix has managed almost all departments at Lingoda, and he is currently covering the roles of VP Sales & Partnerships and Managing Director.

  • Neil Ballantyne


    Neil is Lead Product Manager for Learning Experience at Busuu where he helps to bring Busuu’s purpose to life - that is to inspire the world to learn together with community interactions, live and self-access lessons powered by award-winning smart learning technology.

  • Etiene Dalcol


    Etiene is a Research Engineer at the Institute for Applied Linguistics of EURAC and founder of Polygloss, a mobile game that helps you express yourself in another language.

  • Daniel Bögre Udell


    Daniel is a TED Resident and the co-founder of Wikitongues, which grew out of a personal project he began in 2013. He has been working with online initiatives since 2011, when he helped launch the Catalan-language edition of Global Voices.

  • Inda Härtlein


    Inda is the Chief Learning Officer at Chatterbug and a Berlin-based Argentinian polyglot, educator, lover of languages, and curriculum developer. Inda not only created the methodology of the Curriculum at Chatterbug, but she also leads an international team of linguists, translators, teachers, and graphic designers.

  • Philippa Wentzel


    Philippa is an Instructional Designer at Lingoda, where she is responsible for the design and production of all learning materials in German. Prior to joining Lingoda, she studied Modern Languages at the University of Cambridge, German literature at the University of Leipzig and and Applied Linguistics at The Open University.

  • Hadiya Ahmed


    Hadiya is in her thirties and is originally from Qamishli, Syria. Due to the conflict in her home country, she fled to Erbil, Iraq, where she lives with her husband and two children. She has been working at NaTakallam as a conversation partner for over 3 years.

  • Lindsay Williams

    Lindsay Does Languages

    Lindsay Williams is the language obsessed chica behind Lindsay Does Languages, a community dedicated to inspiring independent language learners and online tutors to succeed when doing it solo. She speaks a varying number of languages depending on the day of the week and how awake her brain is, but has studied 14+ to varying degrees of competence.

  • Michael Campbell


    Michael Campbell is the founder and CEO of Glossika. He is a world-renowned linguist and polyglot with a focus on Sinitic languages.

Over the course of the day we will virtually bring together language enthusiasts from all around the world to learn about the world of online language learning

We will be joined “on stage” by executives from both large and small online language learning companies, internet polyglots, linguists, and more! They will offer you insights on learning languages online, share their stories, and give you tips and tricks for your own language learning journey. We hope you can join us for the second annual virtual online language learning conference, Chatterconf! All donation based ticket sales will be donated to Wikitongues!


Workshops & Presentations

Panel: Belen Caerio (Babbel), Felix Wunderlich (Lingoda), Neil Ballantyne (Busuu), Scott Chacon (Chatterbug) Moderator: Lindsay Williams

PANEL: The Secret Weapon for Learning Languages: Online Video Classes

It’s no secret that the best way to learn to speak another language is to practice speaking it with another person, which calls to mind traveling or taking classes at your local language school. What many people may not realize is that now you can achieve this without ever leaving your home, through online video-based language classes. Our panelists will discuss their different approaches to teaching language via live video classes - 1-on-1 tutoring vs group classes, B2C vs B2B, benefits of an integrated curriculum, and more. The conversation will revolve around why they chose to include video-based classes in their language learning courses, what they are currently focusing on, and what their plans are for the future.

Scott Chacon


Pushing the Boundaries: The Future of Language Learning with New Technologies

In this talk, Scott will explore the past, present and future of language learning and the role that technology plays. From Thomas Jefferson to how Scott learned in school, language learning has hardly progressed - books and group class, we have been setup for failure. Moving on to the current state of language learning, of personalized, dynamic, and customizable apps, platforms, and online tools - we are in a much better place. So what does the technology of tomorrow promise for helping us learn languages? From VR and AR to AI/real time translation, mobile video streaming to speech to text, error analysis - Scott will discuss it all!

Gabriel Wyner

Fluent Forever

Language Learning and the Science of Memory

In this lecture, Gabriel Wyner delivers a humorous take on why children are better than us at learning - and how we can be better than that! What’s at the root of this is a myth that children learn faster than adults - in fact, it’s far from true. But, they have very little else to do when they are learning to walk-and-talk. With this myth debunked, Gabe invites the audience to imagine - what would you learn, if you could learn as efficiently and as fast as we think children do? And how can you learn a language without spending 15,000 hours of time on it? At the heart of these answers is one crucial fundamental of neuroscience. In this talk, Gabe will open your eyes to the tiny changes that cause something to get retained forever, versus something that gets forgotten instantly.

Tobias Dickmeis


Language Learning Trends Around the World

The Tandem language learning community is made up of millions of members from all over the world. Based on how they use Tandem and the results from a study of 15,000 community members, we will look at some facts, figures and trends in language learning around the globe. What are the most popular languages learned in different countries? Are certain languages on the rise? How are proficiency levels distributed? In which countries do people correct learners the most? What are the main learning motivations and goals? What learning resources are most popular? Is there seasonality in language learning? We will also take a special look at constructed languages, sign languages, and emojis.

Ed Cooke


Online Parties, Virtual Worlds, and Language Immersion

Probably the best, and certainly the most pleasurable, way to learn a language is through immersing in it in a place where it is spoken: making friends, enjoying the culture, falling in love, even. The learning takes care of itself. Yet our language apps are tools, not worlds. Here, he'll draw from experiments in avant-garde online parties and in Memrise's R&D team to share a vision for how the future of language learning can have some of the vibrancy, sociality, and richness of an immersive adventure in a foreign land.

Aline Sara and Hadiya Ahmed


How Online Language Tutoring Became a Lifeline for Refugees

Aline Sara, CEO and Co-Founder of NaTakallam, will have a discussion with Hadiya, online language tutor at NaTakallam, about how technology - and NaTakallam in particular - has given her the platform to tutor her native language online. This has provided her (along with 200+ displaced people) with sustainable livelihoods and work opportunities.

Inda Härtlein


The End of Forgetting

The brain, with its over 80 billion neurons, empowers us to do astonishing things like build skyrockets, clone Dolly the sheep, and learn multiple languages. Yet we can’t remember where we put our cell phone, or our neighbors’ names. Learning a language is a persistent battle against our brain’s stubborn tendency to forget. What are the levels of processing in our brain and how can we learn to never forget?

Kirsten Campbell-Howes


Language learning in transition: Where do we go from here?

As the Covid-19 pandemic accelerates the move to digital learning, many learners are finding their way to language learning apps and online classes for the first time. At the same time, a whole generation of language learners has grown up with digital as their first (and sometimes only) experience of language learning. In this talk, we'll take a look back over the past twenty years as digital language learning has really grown up and ask "how far have we come?" focusing in on five significant ways in which the online language learning experience has improved things for learners. We'll then zoom in on the present, and ask "where do we go from here?" identifying five key challenges for language learning apps (with some examples from the Busuu community on how we've tried to solve these).

Geoff Stead


Healthy habits: Learners only learn if they want to.

For a few, lucky people learning languages is a fun thing to do in itself. But for the rest of us, it can be tough. It takes time, focus and motivation. We need to build up a web of small, healthy habits that keep us motivated, and learning. Geoff will be sharing some of Babbel’s current experiments and insights into how to find that motivational sweet spot between pure language learning, and behavioural nudges. Join us on the hunt for that perfect cocktail of critical new words, regular successes, cultural interest, speaking practice, intrinsic motivation, game theory, language progression, spaced repetition, productive skills, etc etc. A blend of art and science.

Etiene Dalcol


Language x Tech: Getting Started with Computational Linguistics

Computational Linguistics is an interdisciplinary field that brings key changes to our lives. Manipulating language is one of the earliest applications of computation, with cryptanalysis for translating dating back to 9th century arabic scholars, and also one of the most exciting applications of modern technology, like language generation models such as GPT-3. Research in this field powers machine translation systems like Google Translate, interactive dialogue systems like Siri, helps us learn more about the nature of language by investigating large amounts of data, and much more. In this talk I'll cover details about what exactly is Computational Linguistics, what you can do with it, why study it, how to break into this field, how it's applied in language learning, and where to find resources to learn more about it.

Daniel Bögre Udell


How These Five People are Keeping their Languages Alive

Two-hundred years of genocide and forced assimilation drove half the world’s 7,000 languages to the brink of collapse, but people are fighting back. Around the world, communities are reawakening mother tongues and rebuilding cultures, proving that language extinction isn’t inevitable. At Wikitongues, we help people get started with language documentation and revitalization. Join us on a journey across five countries as we explore how people in vastly different social contexts are kickstarting mother-tongue projects in their communities, finding ways to keep their languages alive.

Michael Campbell


Mastering Tones in Asian Languages with a Focus on Mandarin

The tones in each of the Asian languages present a different set of challenges for anybody who is learning them, regardless of whether your own language has tones or not. But there is actually one simple system that unifies the layout of tones in all languages! Michael will describe how tones throughout all Asian languages are largely one and the same system. Then he will go into detail on how to handle tones in fluent speech, focusing specifically on Mandarin.

Philippa Wentzel


“Dissolving the Screen”: Bringing Online Learning to Life

Online language programmes are booming, but how can they truly come alive for participants? Despite the unprecedented ease of connecting with others, learning online is often seen as solitary and detached. The more access we have to language learning content, the harder it can feel to engage deeply with that material. And while online courses have made language learning more convenient than ever before, drop-out rates are also typically higher than for offline courses. Why is this? And how can we overcome it? This talk will explore the specific opportunities and challenges of online learning, and present two key (and related) concepts for designing online learning experiences that are indeed capable of dissolving the screen and taking online learning to the next level: ‘presence’ and ‘deep processing’.

Breakout Sessions

Pitch Session

Have a language learning product you're working on, or a brand new product within your company, or just want to take this chance to show off your language learning app? This is your time to shine! Sign up to give a 5 minute pitch during the lunch pitch breakout session. SIGNUPS CLOSED.

Mini Language Lesson: Intro to Igbo

Onyinye Ibelegbu is an Igbo language teacher, translator, writer and content creator. She is the founder of NwaadaIgbo, a platform that provides Igbo language learning products and services. Her goal is to preserve the use of the Igbo language by providing Igbo language learning resources that are not just detailed but self paced and technologically compliant. In this beginner Igbo language lesson, she will teach you short phrases and how to communicate tones, as this is very important in the Igbo language!

Mini Language Lesson: Beginner Spanish

Sandra has been a Spanish tutor on a Chatterbug since 2018. She is originally from Colombia, but currently resides in Hamburg, Germany.

When we speak to someone in a foreign language for the first time, we usually start by introducing ourselves. After this beginner Spanish lesson with Sandra, you will be able to confidently share your name, where you're from, and what languages you speak. And just in case they don't catch your name the first'll learn how to spell it in Spanish, too!

Mini Language Lesson: Beginner French

Amandine is from Nantes, France and has a background in teaching and theater. She has been a tutor on Chatterbug since the day they launched the French curriculum in 2018!

When we meet someone for the first time, often the first thing we want to share is who we are! In this intro to French lesson, Amandine will teach you how to introduce yourself in French, including your name, where you live and your country of origin. And for those who aren't familiar with it yet, you'll be able to describe the colours of the flag too.

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