Tag Archives: Spanish

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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Audio Libros!

Shiny and new!

 By popular demand, the Film & Audio Department now offers books on CD in Spanish. This small but growing collection features titles by authors such as Isabel Allende, Dan Brown, Malcolm Gladwell, Sue Monk Kidd, Eckhart Tolle, and more

(For some reason, I find the Spanish title of Who Moved My Cheese to be wildly entertaining. It’s ¿Quien Se Ha Llevado Mi Queso?

If you’d like to brush up on your Spanish but just can’t stand to conjugate any more verbs, check them out! 

– Amy


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Hola! ¿Cómo estás?

Muy bien, gracias.

And that’s about as far as I can get in Spanish, leaving me pretty far out of the loop when I was visiting Colombia last month.  My two-year-old niece was saying words I couldn’t understand.  So, one of my many new year’s resolutions is to study Spanish this year.  Since it’s everything I can do to commit to a new year’s resolution, I don’t want to go too far and commit to an actual class yet.  So what am I going to do?

The first thing I’m going to do is borrow one of our downloadable audiobooks.  Overdrive has both Instant Immersion Spanish and Spanish on the Move, while Netlibrary offers eight Spanish instructional audiobooks published by Pimsleur, from beginning to advanced. I’m also going to borrow one of the phrasebooks, such as Latin American Spanish or At Home Abroad Spanish: Practical Phrases for Conversational Spanish, and make myself some flashcards and stickers to put around the house.  (I think knowing how to say “couch” (sofá) and “fridge” (refrigerador) will come in handy, don’t you?)  After a few weeks or months, I’m going to test myself by taking the practice SAT Spanish Test in the Testing & Education Resource Center, one of our research databases, and see how far I’ve gotten.

Of course, I’ll be using my Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh library card to access those items, but there are many free online sources that can help me learn Spanish as well.  One that my mom’s been using (believe me, she was with me in Colombia, and I couldn’t have gone shopping without her!) is Coffee Break Spanish.  They have a lesson library and a weekly podcast, so you can listen on an mp3 player.  Another site with free lessons is Live Mocha.  They use both visuals and sounds, as well as little quizes to test your progress.  I learned about Quia Spanish from our Tools & Research page for Spanish. It has all kinds of fun and slightly addictive games to practice with. I’m signing up for Spanish Word-a-Day, too.

So there you have it, a resolution for the non-committal.  Hasta luego!



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