Daily Archives: July 18, 2014

Language Learning 101 @ Your Library

Today’s guest post comes to us courtesy of Scott M., of the West End library. You can learn a little more about Scott, and all of our contributors, at the About Us page.

I love languages and language learning, I guess you could say, other than working at the library, languages and language learning are my passion.  The library is an incredible place to find resources on language learning, the science of linguistics, and learning in general.

Western Carolina University = image source

Image spotted at Western Carolina University pages.

There are countless promises in advertising of programs that will get you speaking another language easily in no time, with little or no effort on your part. Some of these programs can teach certain things really well, and most of them are available through the library, but I think we all know that some effort and multiple sources of information are required to really master a language.

Pimsleur language programs are an all-audio system of learning languages developed by Dr. Paul Pimsleur, these programs can quickly teach the basics of the language you’re learning, drill the basics really well, and are quite repetitive, so you will never forget what you learn. The library also has a wonderful language learning program available in app form or on your computer called Mango Languages . Mango is an electronic learning program that has flashcards, brief grammar notes, and voice comparison. Download Mango on your smartphone and you’ll be able to practice anywhere, anytime you have a moment free. That’s not all: the library has countless books, audio-programs, and other tools!

You can also find a lot of information about linguistics, the science of languages, which can cover topics like language learning, but also some great topics like the evolution of languages, extinct languages, and languages in danger of becoming extinct.  Some excellent books that I’ve enjoyed on these topics are:

The Science Times Book of Language and Linguistics –  Language columns that have appeared in the Science Times section of the New York Times.

The Last Speakers:  The Quest to Save the World’s Endangered Languages – By David K. Harrison.

The Language Instinct – By Steven Pinker

Fluent in 3 Months – By Benny Lewis

There are also some great informational books about specific languages that are not instructional in learning the language, but are nonetheless great to read, such as:

Born to Kvetch : Yiddish Language and Culture in all its Moods – By Michael Wex

The Mother Tongue : English & How it Got That Way – By Bill Bryson

Made in America : An Informal History of the English Language in the United States – also by Bill Bryson

Another great topic for those interested in language learning is learning in general.  I’ve found these titles to be pretty helpful:

The Art of Learning : A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence – By Josh Waitzkin

Learning how to Learn : The Ultimate Learning and Memory Instruction – By Jerry Lucas

Another way the library can help you on your language learning journey is through classes and conversation groups.  Whether Italian conversation or Korean for beginners to Let’s Speak English or Let’s Learn Spanish! for kids, there are plenty of opportunities to engage your family in language learning activities.  Check out the events section of our website to find out more!

Learning a language is not a quick fix thing that is achieved in a short period of time. You also don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the results you’re looking for.  We don’t have to buy into the gimmicks we see in advertising.     At the library we have resources to support you in your linguistic journey whether you are a beginner or advanced learner.  Actually, no matter what you choose to pursue, we’ve probably got you covered!

There are also a couple of great FREE resources that I wanted to mention that are not library resources:

duolingo – Duolingo is a free downloadable language learning app that can help you learn French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, or German.  It is online, interactive, and set up like a game in which you compete against other learners.

meetup.com – Often there are groups that meet-up through this website to practice learning together.  A great way to get actual experience interacting with others.

Have fun learning!

–Scott M.



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