Daily Archives: April 26, 2011

Learning Languages the Library Way

A few weeks ago I decided to see if I could revive my long-dormant Spanish skills, using only library resources.  So far, it’s been a wildly successful experiment.

The first thing I did was visit the tools and research page for Languages  on the library’s website.  I started at “Online and Downloadable Language Programs,” because I had heard good things about Mango Languages.  It was easy to register an account and start a course.  I thought one of the coolest features is that Mango keeps track of which languages you’ve studied, and for how long.  I’ve completed 27 minutes of basic  Spanish, and while that particular course is a little too basic for me, there are two more levels I can try.

Then I went back to the library’s Languages page, and browsed the specific section for Spanish.  Towards the bottom I discovered Destinos, an instructional program in the style of a telenovela (Spanish soap opera).  Destinos turned out to be perfectly suited to my needs — I was beyond the basics of “Hello, how are you?” but needed a lot of support from the captions, review sections, and online exercises.  Plus, the perfect blend of melodrama and a nostalgic 80s-90s feel has pretty much made it one of my favorite things ever.

I’ve also investigated the First Floor’s foreign language fiction collection.  I chose La Milla Verde, by Stephen King and translated by María Eugenia Ciocchini, and Apocalipsis Z: Los Días Oscuros by Manel Loureiro.  In English these might be leisurely beach reads, but I’m merely chipping away at them in the same painstaking way I translated The Aeneid in Latin III.  I can still only get the gist of them without Google Translate or a Spanish-English dictionary (I chose this one because it was travel-sized, but I can already tell it’s a bit light for my purposes).

My goal is to get good enough that I can join the Spanish Conversation Club.  I’m not quite ready yet, but I don’t think it will be long.


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