Libraries: Gateway of Knowledge – Language in the Library

Stockholm Public Library Stacks
Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.”
~ Benjamin Lee Whorf

By Gabrielle Passick

Last week, we explored music in the library. Now, you will be introduced to language in the library. Have you ever wanted to learn a language but were discouraged over the cost of lessons? Did you have any time constraints? Libraries are the answer. Libraries have countless language learning resources for you. These tools are all available with your library card. You will be introduced to many helpful resources. Let’s get started! 

The Orange County Library System in California hosts free Zoom language lessons such as the Basic Spanish Virtual Event this month. Workshops for community members whose first language is not English are often held. Cuyahoga County Public Library in Ohio shares helpful language learning resources on their site

A database called Mango Languages is available through a handful of different libraries in the United States. The Brooklyn Public Library provides a thorough introduction of this complimentary program.

Rosetta Stone Library Solution via EBSCO is one of my favorite resources. With over 30 languages available at no-cost to select libraries, this program will greatly aid in providing you with the tools you will need to be comfortable speaking and understanding a language. To learn more about this partnership, click here.

Regular books with an accompanying CD seem to work the best for me. The beauty of learning a language are the various methods of instruction. You may prefer the convenience of learning through your smartphone before work.  I recently picked up a copy of Rick Steves’ German Phrase Book & Dictionary from my local library. This book assisted me with learning phrases to prepare me for an upcoming opportunity abroad. Check out FluentU’s list of 10 of the Best Language Learning Books Out There. Odds are, your library has these titles.

BBC Languages is another helpful tool. With 40 languages available, this comprehensive program will help you become fluent in any language of your choosing. 

Do you prefer to watch movies? Libraries have an extensive collection of foreign films and apps that provide access to these movies. Maybe you would like to check out a film from TimeOut’s 50 Best Foreign Films of All Time. There is a high probability that your local library will have these films available. It is beneficial to supplement your language studies with films or radio broadcasts. To see if your library participates in Kanopy, an online movie streaming application, please click here. Speaking of radio broadcasts, Deutsche Welle’s Radio D is a free podcast for learning German. This resource is especially unique as it incorporates imagery along the way of your studies. 

Coursera offers thousands of free courses with certification available. Amongst these courses, language classes are included. For example, Yonsei University is currently offering a First Step Korean course via Coursera. The class starts this week!

Sign up for a library card today and take advantage of all the free library resources available to you. Never hesitate to ask a librarian for help. They would be glad to assist you in your language learning adventures.