Richard Simcott

Lead Organizer

Richard Simcott, a polyglot from Chester, Great Britain, is a lifelong language learner who has studied more than 50 languages. HarperCollins has described him as one of the most multilingual people in the United Kingdom, and the Goethe-Institut has named him Ambassador for Multilingualism.

Richard manages a team of polyglots as the Languages Director at social media management agency The Social Element. He has many years of consulting experience using languages with diverse clients and offering his expertise on multilingual and multinational projects.

He is the original founder of the Polyglot Conference and manages a popular Facebook page called Speaking Fluently.

Gary McCann

Website and Local Organizer

Gary McCann is a language learner and enthsiast from Scotland although he would never describe himself as a polyglot and more as a “professional beginner”

Gary started in languages at age 35 (just 6 years ago) having believed all his life that he “just didn’t have the knack”. After taking on and winning a popular language challenge, all that changed.

He has worked with many top polyglots on various projects and runs multiple websites and Facebook groups to help users improve their language skills including The Language Learning Library and.My Language Challenge

Maureen Millward

Local Organizer

Maureen is a languages enthusiast and polyglot from Scotland.

Brought up in a monolingual household, she started learning languages seriously from age 16, studied languages at university and then worked in the European Finance Departments at two international companies.

As well as regularly using her best 8 languages, she is currently actively learning Greek and Egyptian Arabic.

In addition, she has completed challenges in some lesser-known languages such as Welsh, Scottish Gaelic & Sicilian.

She also loves travelling and has been to over 50 countries, her favourite being Egypt so far.
You can read more on her blog Language Learning Journey.

Laura Strzelak

Local Volunteer

Laura is an aspiring polyglot from Scotland. She is a global ambassador for Duolingo and organises language meet-ups for Spanish learners around Edinburgh.

Growing up bilingual showed her the impact of modern languages on individuals and their cultures which influenced her decision to study languages throughout her school career. She took exams in French, Spanish and Polish and is now studying languages at the University of St. Andrews.

In 2019, she started volunteering as a French language learning assistant and taught children from the age of 6 – 10 the basics of language learning. This experience inspired her to pursue a career path in languages.

Even though Laura mostly learns languages in academic contexts, she is learning Dutch and Spanish for leisure in the comfort of her home and enjoys participating in online language learning challenges.

Thomas H Bak

Local Volunteer

Thomas was born and raised in Cracow, Poland, as son of a Polish-speaking father and German-speaking mother. Although confronted with different languages from an early age, his my parents tried to raise him speaking Polish only “so that he wouldn’t get confused”.

He still ended up learning many languages, alongside his medical studies in Germany and Switzerland, with placements in Turkey, Japan and UK. Later he wrote his doctorate on language disorders caused by brain diseases (“aphasias”) and worked in psychiatry, neurology and neurosurgery in Bern, Berlin, Cambridge and Edinburgh.

Currently, Thomas works at the University of Edinburgh, exploring the impact of language learning/use and multilingualism on cognitive functions, such as attention, across the whole lifespan and in brain diseases such as dementia and stroke. He conducts studies across the world, from Scotland, through India, to Singapore.

Thomas speak 4 languages on a daily basis (English, Polish, German and Spanish) and always enjoys learning new ones.

Thomas also runs the site Healthy Linguistic Diet along with Dr Dina Mehmedbegovic.

Julia Stańczyk