The London Language Show took place again this year, from 3 to 5 November, at Olympia. For the third year running a team of volunteers from EAB organised and manned a stand.
I did duty with Helen Fantom on the Esperanto stand at the Language Show at Olympia on the first day. It was far more interesting than I'd expected.
The profile of visitors is different each day. On Friday morning, school children and teachers attended the prizegiving for a language competition. I spoke to a teacher who'd come down from Nuneaton to be with her student - a lad of eight who'd learnt four languages, the last being Swahili. 'Easy,' he said.
Teachers wear a yellow 'VIP' sticker, so they are the ones to seek out if you want to promote the Springboard project and Language Awareness. One education advisor, who'd heard the presentation on Springboard last year, brought a colleague and explained it to her with great enthusiasm - I just had to hand her the clipboard to sign for a teacher's information pack.
Many teachers I spoke to were from private schools where a second language (or more) is successfully taught at primary level. No teacher said that a foreign language was difficult for their young students.
Helen targeted the younger children, and I tried to interest teenagers and older students. Quite a lot of postgraduates and young people who had just finished A-levels were at the exhibition, some to seek job opportunities.
A bright animal poster, with pictures drawn by Viv O'Dunne, turned out to be quite an attention-grabber. Above each animal is the Esperanto name, and below the picture is the translation in several different tongues - showing the language connections. Some were purchased by private primary schools where they don't want Springboard, but where the poster fits in with their teaching.
The Esperanto stand was near the study area for 'taster' courses, each of which lasts about 30 minutes. It meant people were coming and going all day. A young woman was disappointed that we weren't offering a taster course in Esperanto. This reflects the general attitude of the type of people who come to the language show - open, intelligent, positive. I was delighted how many people said 'yes', they knew about Esperanto, considering that we've been told that 'no one has heard of it'. One postgraduate said she'd done some Esperanto research as part of her studies.
I believe it fills the remit of 'Educating the public in the international language, Esperanto' - EAB's chief aim. At present we haven't an alternative method of reaching such an intelligent audience.
Part of the team pause on Sunday afternoon in front of EAB's stand. From the left: Helen Fantom, Tim Owen, Martin Minich (a visitor from Slovenia, who had just finished working for a year as the TEJO volunteer at UEA headquarters in Rotterdam) and Gavan Fantom. Around 500 people got information packs on Esperanto during the weekend. [Photo: John Wells]
Another view of the stand on the Sunday. Angela Tellier and Elizabeth Stanley presented the Springboard project once each. Daniel White also helped to enrol passers-by with remarkable energy and enthusiasm. Addresses of interested people were collected for sending further information. UEA President Renato Corsetti was also in London and came along to see the stand. An enthusiastic member of our team approached him on the merits of the international language! [Photo: John Wells]
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