EuroSLA 2018 in Münster

This year’s annual EuroSLA conference took place earlier this month in the historical cathedral city of Münster in Germany. As usual, it was a very lively conference with a packed academic and social programme, providing plenty of opportunities for discussion, conversation, sharing ideas and meeting with delegates, both familiar and new.

Laura at the MM Stand
Laura at the MM Stand

Books in our SLA series are always popular with the delegates and this year I was really pleased to have the brand-new book Mind Matters in SLA (edited by Clare Wright, Thorsten Piske and Martha Young-Scholten) on the stand.  Many thanks to Sarah, our Head of Production, and Short Run Press, the printer, for getting copies to the office in time for me to bring to EuroSLA in my suitcase! As the book has not yet arrived at our warehouse it is not yet officially published, so delegates (and contributors to the book) were excited to be holding the book ahead of the official publication date!

Other popular books at the conference were Rod Ellis’ new volume Reflections on Task-Based Language Teaching, Edward Zhisheng Wen’s book Working Memory and Second Language Learning and titles on early language learning, such as those edited by Maria Pilar Garcia Mayo (Learning Foreign Languages in Primary School) and Janet Enever & Eva Lindgren (Early Language Learning).

Münster town centre
Münster town centre

During the quiet moments between breaks I was able to attend a number of sessions and some of the keynotes. A notable highlight for me was Raphaele Berthele’s keynote speech, titled ‘Policy recommendations for language learning: Linguists’ contributions between scholarly debates and pseudoscience’. It was an extremely engaging talk during which he skilfully used humour and personal examples to discuss the important questions surrounding the role of researchers in policy recommendations; the kind of research that can potentially inform policy and what researchers should know before they give recommendations.

That keynote was followed by the opening conference drinks reception which took place in the festival hall within the city’s town hall. As well as enjoying refreshments in the historic building, we were also able to visit the Friedenssaal (Peace hall), where treaties were signed to end the Thirty Years’ War and Eighty Years’ War in 1648. I enjoyed hearing the stories surrounding some of the engravings in the hall including one about a captured village where the captors permitted the women of the village to flee, carrying their one most important belonging. What they didn’t realise was what the women would choose…the engraving showed women carrying their husband prisoners from the village!

There was also a lively conference dinner beside Münster’s city lake and I enjoyed spending my afternoon off before travelling home pottering around the large biweekly farmers’ market on the city square, visiting the city museum and wandering round the cobbled streets, as well as sampling local food and drink of course!

Laura

Publishing FAQs: All your conference questions answered!

This time of year is always a busy period for conferences and 2017 has been no different, with Flo at BAAL, Sarah at the Visitor Economy conference and me at EuroSLA last week. Along with selling the books, conferences are a great opportunity for us to speak with delegates. Of course, most conversations centre around the content of the books and vary depending on what we have with us. But you’d probably be surprised at how frequently we are asked some particular questions, and sometimes we are surprised that people even ask them! Here are a selection of our favourites:

Sarah at a Channel View conference

How do you choose which conferences you attend?

Firstly, we look at the theme of a conference, the size of it (big isn’t always better) and who has recommended it or told us they’ll be attending. We then look at whether it is affordable and decide whether to attend in person or send a display. Finally, we check our travel schedule and agree who will go where. As conferences often fall at roughly the same time and sometimes, to our frustration, even clash with each other, they take a considerable amount of logistical planning. Funny as it sounds, as well as coordinating ourselves, we also have to make sure that things such as tablecloths are in the right places with the right people!

How do you decide which books to bring?

Once we have decided to be involved in a conference, as Marketing Manager, it is my job to sort out all the details. I look at the programme and decide which of our recent books are relevant and which of our authors are attending. It is often a real challenge to cut a list of perhaps 100 books down to a reasonable number that will fit on a single table! But having to cut down a long list of books that we’re keen to show off is not a bad position to be in.

How many copies do you bring of each book?

This is another source of much umming and ahhing! I come up with a figure by combining information about how popular a book has been at previous conferences and its sales in general, with how relevant it is to the themes of a conference and whether the author will be there to promote their book. It is not the most scientific of processes but, having been to many conferences, I have a good feeling for what is about right. I’ll then check the list with whoever is attending the conference and they’ll make further suggestions or amendments.

Laura with a stack of empty boxes after the AAAL conference

Did you bring the books here in your suitcase?

No! This always makes us laugh because the books are really heavy and usually fill several big boxes!  Except in exceptional circumstances, such as when we are going by car, the books are delivered straight from our warehouse to the conference.

Why is my book not here?

We do our best to bring authors’ books to conferences if they have forewarned us that they’ll be there. If we haven’t got your book, it might be because it is slightly older and we have to give preference on the stand to newer books. My favourite response to this question is that if it’s too old to have made the cut, it might be time for you to think about writing us a new one to bring!

Can you ship the book to me for free?

If we have sold out and there is no copy for you to take, then yes, we will gladly send you a copy with free shipping. This is a sign that I didn’t get the numbers quite right and should have brought more so that you can take one. But if there is a copy on the table and you want it shipped, we do ask that you pay the shipping. It makes sense really: we will have paid to have the book shipped to the conference, will then pay to have the booked shipped back to the warehouse and then pay again to ship the book to your home. If we did all that shipping, the costs would soon add up to way more than the price at which we sell the book. So, in order to continue to offer the books at a special conference discount, we cannot also offer free shipping.

Why are your books so much cheaper here?

You’re buying directly from us, so we don’t have to give a cut to any booksellers or wholesalers who might otherwise be involved in the book selling chain. We don’t expect to make a profit through book sales at a conference; conferences have an immeasurable value for us in terms of meeting people; showing our books to a new audience and keeping up with trends in the field. The price we charge is therefore as cheap as we can afford to sell it at, with a small contribution to the cost of attending conferences.

Do you get to go to the sessions?

Yes, sometimes, especially if there are two of us and one can man the stand while the other goes to a talk. We are also usually able to attend the plenaries as most other delegates will do so too and thus these are quiet periods at the stand. At other times, delegates may make the most of a session when there is no paper of interest to them to browse the books and chat with us. This is often much easier done when we are quiet than during the rush of the coffee or lunch break and we’re usually glad of the company!

What do you do when it’s quiet?

If we’ve just had a busy coffee break then we’re usually glad to have a moment to sit down! If there’s no-one browsing books and no session we want to attend, then we might tidy the stand, check emails and social media or catch up with the other publishers. And of course, if it’s really quiet, we have plenty of reading material in front of us!

Anna, Tommi and Laura at a conference

What makes a good conference?

We’ve had fun reminiscing about previous conferences and come up with the following that may combine to make a really good conference from a publishing perspective: excellent speakers whose presentations spark interesting conversations and discussions; a well-organised committee and host venue; being close to the refreshments (not only because we enjoy them, but because this is where delegates tend to congregate); a location that will attract many attendees and is easy to get to; a well-thought-out schedule that isn’t overcrowded and runs to time; plenty of table space so we can spread out our books; double-sided name tags with large print and, even though it’s out of everyone’s control, rain! A wet conference means that delegates are more likely to spend the time between sessions browsing books than out enjoying the host city!

Do you have a book on x-y-z?

We can’t promise to know all our books inside out but we’ll do our best to help you find what you’re looking for. And if neither you nor we can find it, then that’s probably a good sign that you have pointed out a gap in the market! Why not talk to us about writing for us?

Where are the toilets? Is this the registration desk? Can I put my coat under your table? Can I leave my child with you? Do you have a USB stick I can borrow? Can I check a reference in a book?

These and many others are frequently asked and we’re always willing to answer and help out where we can, even if it’s just sending someone in the right direction. Sometimes it’s from the small interactions that the greater conversations begin.

We’re busy making plans for 2018 and hope to see you at a conference somewhere soon!

Laura

Laura’s trip to Finland for the PLL and EuroSLA conferences

Two years ago Tommi and I attended the Sociolinguistics Symposium in Jyväskylä and had a fantastic time so I have been very much looking forward to returning to the city ever since it was announced that the University of Jyväskylä would be hosting the Psychology and Language Learning (PLL) and European Second Language Acquisition (EuroSLA) conferences.

The week started with Paula Kalaja, the chair of the local organising committee, welcoming delegates to the university and announcing the conference theme, “Individuals in Contexts”. There followed many papers and discussions, plus thought-provoking keynotes from Sarah Mercer, Maggie Kubanyiova and Phil Benson.

Quiet moment at the MM stand
Quiet moment at the MM stand

The coffee and lunch breaks provided many opportunities to continue the conversations and, as it was a smaller conference, it was nice to see so many new connections being formed and ideas being shared and discussed among the whole spectrum of the delegates. Of course, breaks are also the busiest time at the Multilingual Matters book display and I was happy to meet lots of avid readers and researchers!

Celebrating our new book with contributor Kristiina Skinnari and editor Tarja Nikula
Laura celebrating our new book with contributor Kristiina Skinnari and editor Tarja Nikula

Our most popular titles were Positive Psychology in SLA (edited by Peter D. MacIntyre, Tammy Gregersen and Sarah Mercer), the 2nd edition of Bonny Norton’s bestselling book Identity and Language Learning and Conceptualising Integration in CLIL and Multilingual Education edited by Tarja Nikula, Emma Dafouz, Pat Moore and Ute Smit. That book was so hot off the press that I brought copies in my suitcase direct from our office!

Along with the academic programme, I very much enjoyed the conference dinner at which we experienced delicious Finnish food, traditional folk music and a beautiful view across the city, for the dinner was held in a water tower high on a hill. It was a very strange feeling eating dinner knowing that you’re sitting right above an awful lot of water!

The conference drew to a close with the exciting announcement of the formation of a new association dedicated to this sector of the field, with Stephen Ryan the newly-elected President. He spoke of the goals of the association and announced that PLL3 will take place in Japan in 2018. I’ll certainly be keeping my eye out for more information on that one!

On the lake in Jyväskylä
On the lake in Jyväskylä

With a pause after PLL only long enough to enjoy a quick dip in the surprisingly-not-too-cold lake, in rolled EuroSLA, one of my favourite conferences in our calendar. The theme for this year was “Looking back, looking forward: Language learning research at the crossroads” and, as at PLL earlier in the week, we were treated to a range of papers and keynotes from Søren Wind Eskildsen, Ofelia García, Marjolijn Verspoor and Ari Huhta. Although Ofelia García described herself as an outsider to the field, her impassioned talk titled “Transgressing native speaker privilege: The role of translanguaging” was my personal highlight of the whole week. Another top moment was the presentation of the EuroSLA Distinguished Scholar Award to our author, Carmen Muñoz, for her outstanding contribution to the field.

The focus of the book display shifted slightly at EuroSLA and bestsellers on the stand included Rosa Alonso Alonso’s edited collection Crosslinguistic Influence in Second Language Acquisition, Zhisheng (Edward) Wen’s new monograph Working Memory and Second Language Learning and John Bitchener and Neomy Storch’s book Written Corrective Feedback for L2 Development.

As usual, the EuroSLA organising team also put on a fantastic social programme, with the highlights being the welcome reception in a Finnish rock club and a boat cruise on the lake to the traditional dinner venue, on arrival at which we were served a very strong but equally tasty local drink before enjoying more local cuisine and music.

All in all it was a wonderful trip to a couple of great conferences and a very welcoming host city. I’m very much looking forward to the next ones already!

Laura

Summer conference travel – EUROSLA and BAAL

As usual, we attended both the EUROSLA and BAAL conferences this summer and I was fortunate enough to get to represent Multilingual Matters at both.

Laura with the outdoor book display
Laura with the outdoor book display

This year marked the 25th EUROSLA conference and the special anniversary meeting took place Aix-en-Provence in France. The conference followed the usual format with plenaries by key researchers in the field and many papers on a wide variety of topics within the domain of second language acquisition. The novelty from a publishing aspect was that I got to do my first ever outdoor book display in the glorious (if rather hot!) French sunshine.

The delegates and I very much enjoyed the fresh air during the breaks, as well as the excellent refreshments that were provided.  I was most impressed that the organisers provided everyone with a re-useable mug at the start of the conference and we used them during each break – saving well over a thousand disposable cups throughout the conference.

The Pavillon Vendôme, location of the welcome reception
The Pavillon Vendôme, location of the welcome reception

We spent the first evening of the conference at an outdoor drinks reception at the beautiful Pavillon Vendôme where we were welcomed to the city by the mayor.  We were treated to tasty canapés, wine and I even tried pastis for the first time. My verdict was positive although I can imagine that the anise flavour might not be to everyone’s taste! The second evening was the conference dinner and again the wonderful French weather meant that we could make the most of another warm evening with drinks and dinner outside. Following the pattern of the conference thus far, we were again spoilt with yet more delicious food and drink!

The bestselling books of the conference were Measuring L2 Proficiency edited by Pascale Leclercq, Amanda Edmonds and Heather Hilton, Working Memory in Second Language Acquisition and Processing edited by Zhisheng (Edward) Wen, Mailce Borges Mota and Arthur McNeill, and Vivian Cook and David Singleton’s textbook Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition. David Singleton was also the recipient of the EUROSLA Distinguished Member Award during the conference, which was also a proud moment for us as he is founder and co-series editor of our Second Language Acquisition series.

From EUROSLA in France I headed back home and then straight on to BAAL which this year was hosted by Aston University in Birmingham. Sadly we left the sunshine behind us but having hardly ever been to Birmingham, despite it being less than a couple of hours from Bristol, I was interested to attend a conference in the city. The Aston University campus was located right in the heart of the centre but still manages to be a pleasant, green campus.

Birmingham's Poet Laureate Adrian Blackledge
Birmingham’s Poet Laureate Adrian Blackledge

The conference was opened by Adrian Blackledge and Angela Creese who gave a stimulating plenary during which they played some enchanting vignettes from their research, which included examples of communication in both the city library and market. A further highlight of the conference was a poetry session by Adrian Blackledge who is the current Poet Laureate for Birmingham. He recited some of the poems that he has composed during the past year, which included one to commemorate the start of the First Word War, another to celebrate Burns Night, and one which was not an official poem but that he had written on the birth of his first grandchild, a really touching piece.

Bestsellers at BAAL were understandably quite different to those at EUROSLA and the list was headed up by the second edition of Bonny Norton’s book Identity and Language Learning, Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes by Jan Blommaert and our new title Emerging Self-Identities and Emotion in Foreign Language Learning by Masuko Miyahara.

Next on our travel list include our annual trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair, where we meet with our contacts and representatives from the book industry, and then Tommi will be heading to Auckland in November for both the Symposium on Second Language Writing and the Language, Education and Diversity conference. Look out for him there if you are also in attendance!

Laura

EUROSLA Conference in York

EUROSLA Conference in York

The end of the summer is almost synonymous with the annual EUROSLA conference, and this year was no different. The conference moves around Europe, with recent previous conferences being held in the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. This year the gathering headed to the UK where the conference was hosted by the University of York on its brand new campus.

The University of York Campus
The University of York Campus

As a graduate of the university I was especially happy to attend and was delighted to have the opportunity to revisit some of my favourite haunts. The conference venue is very new, and situated in still undeveloped green space, so it was interesting for me to see how the university has evolved since I left. The building was the perfect space for the conference and we publishers were situated in the entrance atrium with lovely views out to the lakes where numerous ducks and geese were enjoying a dip!

Conference Drinks Reception at the Yorkshire Museum
Conference Drinks Reception at the Yorkshire Museum

The programme consisted of the usual array of high quality posters, talks and plenaries on the many aspects of second language acquisition. We brought all the recent titles in our SLA series to the conference, as well as a few of our other related titles. Unsurprisingly, Vivian Cook and David Singleton’s new textbook Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition was the best-selling book, followed by Measuring L2 Proficiency edited by Pascale Leclercq, Amanda Edmonds and Heather Hilton.

As usual, the conference organisers also put on a fantastic social programme to match the academic one. The delegates enjoyed a drinks reception in the Yorkshire museum which is set in beautiful gardens. There, we were greeted by the Lord Mayor of York and listened to music from a cellist and jazz quartet; the music was so lively some of us were even tempted to dance! The dancing was an excellent warm up for the next evening.

Conference Dinner at the National Railway Museum in York
Conference Dinner at the National Railway Museum in York

The conference dinner was hosted by the National Railway Museum and we dined among a selection of fascinating trains, my favourites being Queen Victoria’s carriage and the post cart. After dinner a ceilidh (a traditional Scottish dance) was a fun way to end the evening. A few of us had rather sore feet the next day!

EUROSLA 2015 is to be in Aix-en-Provence in France – we are already looking forward to it!

Laura

Applied Linguistics conferences coming up…

Over the next few weeks we’re going to be very busy at several conferences. If you’re going to be attending any conferences where we have a stand please come and say hello as we always like to meet people face-to-face and we’ll also have displays of our books available to buy at a special discount.

Motivational Dynamics in Language LearningFirst up is Motivational Dynamics and Second Language Acquisition in Nottingham which Tommi and Laura will be attending. This symposium is organised by Zoltán Dörnyei, one of the editors of our forthcoming title Motivational Dynamics in Language Learning. Zoltán, as well as several other MM authors such as Ema Ushioda and Peter McIntyre, will be giving keynote speeches at the symposium.

Following this, Laura will be heading up to York for EUROSLA while Tommi will travel to Warwick for the BAAL conference. Both of these conferences are regulars on our conference schedule and we wouldn’t want to miss them!

Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic LandscapesThis year we are particularly excited to announce that Jan Blommaert’s book Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes has been shortlisted for the BAAL Book Prize. We’re really looking forward to the announcement of the winner and have our fingers crossed for Jan!

The following week in September Kim is heading to the Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication conference in Manchester. Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication is a biannual conference associated with the Linguistic Ethnography Forum, a Special Interest Group of BAAL. This is the first time we’ve attended this conference so we’re hoping to make some useful new contacts. If you’re going to be there, please come and say hello to Kim, she’ll be very pleased to meet you.

After all these conferences, we’ll all be back in the office for a while to catch up before heading to Germany in October for our annual trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Conferences Fast-forward

Again it’s the time of year when we start to think about conferences and leaving our office in Bristol for different cities, countries and climates.  2014 is set to be a bumper year of travel as it seems to be the year when biannual and triennial conferences occur, and some one-off conferences also join our usual schedule.

San Diego Convention Center - location for NABE 2014
San Diego Convention Center – location for NABE 2014

The year has kick-started with CAUTHE and NABE, both of which took place as usual in February.  Sarah and Laura headed off in different directions around the globe – Sarah to Brisbane for CAUTHE and Laura to San Diego for NABE.  Keep your eyes on the blog to read about Sarah’s trip soon. NABE was slightly blighted by the snow storms on the East Coast which meant that several delegates had to cancel their plans, but those of us who did make it enjoyed the Californian sunshine, when we weren’t at the conference of course!

In March, Tommi, Laura and Kim will be at AAAL as usual.  This year’s conference in Portland has a publishing focus, so Tommi will be running a session titled “Publishing your first book: From proposal to published product” in which he’ll outline the process of getting an academic book published, from early preparation and planning, through choosing the right publisher, submitting a book proposal and all the editorial stages to final production, publication, sales and marketing. If you are at the conference and at all interested in this subject please come along to the talk at 12:35 on Saturday.

Our stand at NABE 2014
Our stand at NABE 2014

TESOL in Portland and AERA in Philadelphia are the other conferences in the US which we’ll be exhibiting at this spring.  We will have a whole host of new titles with us at these conferences so do feel free to come over and browse the books and say hi.  We always offer a special conference price on our books to delegates, and this year we’re able to extend that to our ebooks, so there’s all the more reason to come over and say hi!

Other highlights later in the year include the Interdisciplinary Tourism Research Conference in Turkey in May, L3 and the Sociolinguistics Symposium both in Northern Europe in June, AILA in Australia in August and EUROSLA in York, UK to name a few. As ever, we very much hope that you’ll be able to meet us at one of these conferences and hope that you have safe and enjoyable travels too.

Laura

2014 set to be an exciting year for MM’s SLA series

Capitalizing on Language Learners' Individuality2014 has begun in force for our Second Language Acquisition series. Already this year we have seen the publication of Capitalizing on Language Learners’ Individuality by Tammy Gregersen and Peter D. MacIntyre: an exciting book which offers not only an up-to-date, accessible introduction to the theories of learner characteristics but is also jam-packed full of practical classroom activities. Tammy and Peter told us about how the project came about in their blog post last year. If you missed it, you can catch up here.

Multiple Perspectives on the Self in SLAAlso on our blog you may have seen Sarah Mercer and Marion Williams’ introduction (here if you missed it) to their edited collection Multiple Perspectives on the Self which was published at the start of February. This collection of papers brings together a diverse range of conceptualisations of the self in the domain of second language acquisition and foreign language learning. The volume attempts to unite a fragmented field and provides a thorough overview of the ways in which the self can be conceptualised in SLA contexts.

Sociocultural Theory and L2 Instructional Pragmatics

The third addition to our SLA series so far this year is Sociocultural Theory and L2 Instructional Pragmatics by Rémi A. van Compernolle. This book outlines a framework for teaching second language pragmatics grounded in Vygotskian sociocultural psychology. Using multiple sources of metalinguistic and performance data, the volume explores both theoretical and practical issues relevant to teaching second language pragmatics from a Vygotskian perspective. Van Compernolle’s book is the 74th to be published in our SLA series and we are hoping to make it to 80 titles by the end of 2014.

The Acquisition of Sociolinguistic Competence in a Lingua Franca ContextBooks already on their way to publication include The Acquisition of Sociolinguistic Competence in a Lingua Franca Context by Mercedes Durham, Jian-E Peng’s monograph Willingness to Communicate in the Chinese EFL University Classroom, ZhaoHong Han’s edited volume Studies in Second Language Acquisition of Chinese and Measuring L2 Proficiency edited by Pascale Leclercq et al. Other highlights for the SLA series in 2014 include the International Conference on Motivational Dynamics and Second Language Acquisition at The University of Nottingham which we are very excited to be supporting and our annual attendance of EUROSLA which is to be hosted by the University of York this year.

The academic series editor for our SLA series is David Singleton, University of Pannonia, Hungary and Fellow Emeritus, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland and our in-house Acquisitions Editor is Laura Longworth. Should you be interested in submitting a proposal or discussing any book ideas with us, please do not hesitate to get in touch. More information can be found on our website here.

EUROSLA Conference 2013

While the EUROSLA conference has been held in the Netherlands before (Nijmegen, 1996) this was the first time in the conference’s 23 year history that Amsterdam has been the host city.  It was a popular destination choice as the conference was its biggest ever, with 350 delegates coming from 35 countries to make it a really vibrant few days.

Oudemanhuispoort, University of Amsterdam
Oudemanhuispoort, University of Amsterdam

The main sessions and plenaries were in the Oudemanhuispoort building at the University of Amsterdam, which was situated right in the centre of the city with a beautiful quadrant, the canals and second-hand book stalls nearby. We also had the opportunity to go to the University of Amsterdam’s impressive Auditorium for Alison Mackey’s opening plenary “Methodology in SLA Research” and to the recently reopened Amsterdam Museum for the welcome reception.

Marianne Nikolov's plenary
Marianne Nikolov’s plenary

Another plenary highlight was that of our author Marianne Nikolov who spoke about early foreign language learning. I was pleased to have well-stocked my stand with copies of her book Early Learning of Modern Foreign Languages as there was much interest in it thereafter.  That evening we had the conference dinner in the unusual Chinese “Sea Palace” and were treated to many different dishes for us to sample – none of them “typically Dutch” but as it was explained to us, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is typically Dutch!

The canals beside the conference venue
The canals beside the conference venue

Kees and Seline from John Benjamins’ kindly took Nina Spada and me out for dinner on the final night.  The menu was in contrast to the night before and I have since enjoyed using my newly acquired Dutch word “gezellig” to describe our evening together!

You can see more of my photos from the trip on our facebook page here.

Laura

EUROSLA 2012: Fun in Poznań

The conference venue

This year’s EUROSLA conference was held at the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań.  The venue was the stunning Collegium Iuridicum Novum building, a brand new facility for the university’s Faculty of Law and Administration.  The conference was its usual bustling self with many people commenting on the range of interesting paper themes and the trouble in finding the time (and sometimes energy!) to get to them all.

The University Choir

The welcome reception consisted of a concert and drinks reception in a hall in one of the older parts of the university.  The performance was given by the university’s academic choir, who have toured all over the world and who had returned to Poznań before the start of term especially to sing for us. It is some time since I have been to a choral concert and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The choir sung a range of pieces including traditional Polish songs and their own takes on popular music.  My favourites were their version of “Chili con Carne”, complete with vocal percussion, and a choral rendition of the “William Tell Overture”, which included the choir trotting across the stage while singing!  After the concert I thoroughly enjoyed chatting, sampling the mysterious foods and even drinking the local vodka! The choir’s motto “bringing joy through singing” certainly rang true that night.

Delicious kasha!

As mentioned above, a personal highlight of my time in Poland was certainly trying a range of foods I’d never eaten, or even heard of before.  I gradually worked my way through the different types of pierogi (Polish dumpling), trying both savoury and sweet ones; the best one I ate was a chocolate and peanut one, yum!  I also discovered kasha, a savoury dish made from buckwheat groats and served with a delicious creamy, cheesy sauce and enjoyed some bigos, a stew which I had memory of some Polish friends making when I lived in Germany.  It was as good as my memory told me it would be!

The Market Square

Having not been to Poland before I thought I’d take the opportunity to take some days holiday, so I not only visited Poznań but went on to spend the weekend in Wrocław and a few days in Kraków.