Written by Theresa Greenwood, Muncie Public Library Customer
Parlez-vous français? Vocè fala Português? Sprichst du Deutsch? Which one of these or one of 19 other world languages would you like to learn to speak, right at your computer, for free, using your Muncie Public Library card. I was amazed when after I had spent money to buy a well-known language course, I found out I could have just dialed up the Muncie Library Information at 747-8204 and been put in touch with a way to accomplish one of my “bucket list” dreams!
Let me introduce you to the spectacular “Mango Language Site.” I didn’t even know it existed until I needed to order the next language course from the company with whom I had been studying. It was going to be an expensive investment just for the second level. My finger was poised to dial the proverbial 800 connection to place the order when suddenly I remembered ‘back in the day’ the library used to have large shiny ebony 33’s. But by now I knew to ask for CD’s of Brazilian Portuguese. No such luck, but that’s when I discovered this incredible treasure: a language database (through the Muncie Public Library site) for learning a language that is as good as the famous (and expensive) course of study!
After you sign in with your library card number, establish your user name and password you can choose the language or languages you will concentrate on from the list depicted by pictures of the countries’ flags. (A good way to associate and learn international flags) Most of the languages have two levels: Basic and Complete, all spoken by native speakers.
The basic level teaches words for business or short trips overseas while the complete course offers much beyond basic language skills. (Just for a delight, if you’ve never heard the “symphony” of other languages, just click on one at a time and listen to the thousands of marvelous tones that have never touched your ears.)
If you are native speaker of any of the15 languages listed and want to learn English as a second language, you can do that. There are also sessions including Mandarin, Arabic and what is definitely “Greek to me.”
The sessions are designed to teach by using color-coded words complete with visual and audio pronunciation playbacks of individual words, phrases or complete sentences. (The site even allows you to time your responses and keep track of your progress; it also provides cultural notes and makes translations of foreign texts.) This color-coded method is presented in chapters beginning with: greetings, gratitude phrases and small talk. You have the option of listening over and over to a word or a phrase by continually clicking the mouse until you can capture the subtle nuances of new sounds setting off multiple neural synapses. You will proceed at your individual pace to the next chapter or feel the need to repeat previous chapters as quickly as you process and own the new information. Eventually you will be able to chain words together and amaze yourself by speaking another language.
If you want to increase your brain power, evade mental fog, prepare for a college entrance language requirement, develop an ear for international awareness, feel Americans should learn to speak a second language (as is the case in so many other countries) or just be simply glib at your next international party, I’d like to invite you to join me by discovering the Mango database. Go www. munpl.org, then click on Adults, then go to Subscription Sites, to Subscription Database M-Z, then “Mango Languages,” finally to Library and Home. Note on the left, pictures of the flags representing the languages. Click on one and begin an adventure into a wonderful world of speaking– as the old people used to say “with a foreign tongue.”
Now that I know that Mango is not just sweet, luscious fruit, I found that after just a week or so at this sweet find: this Mango helped me learn faster and more comprehensively than I did with my former language forays. Now I can say with confidence,“Eu só falo um pouco de português.”
Susan Fisher, an employee of Muncie Public Library, adds the note that, “Anyone can use the Mango system with or without a library card by using the open computer labs at any library location.” She said that since the program is audio, users in the computer lab would need to provide their own headphones or earbuds and would need to repeat the phrases quietly so as not to disturb other computer users. “This could make the Mango system accessible to anyone, even those without a home computer,” she said.
To try Mango Languages click here… and select “Library and Home” at the end of the paragraph describing Mango Languages.