I studied French all throughout high school and as an undergraduate, changing my focus on the language from a minor to my major about halfway through college. Despite the fact that it’s almost as unmarketable a major as English*, I enjoyed the language and the literature and only wish that I had kept up with it once I graduated. It turns out that language skills are one of those things that require use to stay sharp.
My son is learning Spanish at his preschool, and these days I find myself calling on remembered bits and pieces of the one year of Spanish I took in high school. His experience has reawakened my love of learning languages, and I’ve recently started taking advantage of Mango Languages, an electronic resource that the library offers for free. The courses cover conversational basics in a number of different languages, from Spanish or French to Farsi, Latin, Pashto, Tagalog, or even Pirate! (If you were wondering, the Pirate course will teach you that the correct way to say something like “Hello, Captain. The ship is now sailing at full speed” is “All me duty to ye, Cap’n. The ship be now a-sailin’ at full speed.”) There are also courses for those who speak English as a second language, making this one of those resources that supplements a big portion of our print collection. The lessons are aimed at every day conversation, so in addition to this being a great tool to help you brush up on forgotten words, this would also be a fantastic way to learn some basics if you’re traveling to another country. This isn’t a resource where you’ll learn a ton of vocabulary or rules of grammar– our print or audio collections will be better for that– but it’s a great way to get started and you can do the courses at your own pace and from your own home.
I hope to learn enough to start attending the Spanish Conversation Club that we have here at CLP Main (there’s one coming up on Thursday, if your Spanish skills are a bit better than mine!). We have a number of different language clubs and programs, so if you do take advantage of Mango Languages, you can keep practicing your skills here at the library.
*No offense meant to those who studied English! My second major was Creative Writing. I don’t think I could have picked two less employable subjects to study if I tried.