Maybe your French skills faded after high school, or you want to improve your Spanish vocabulary. Perhaps it’s time to become fluent in Japanese before taking that extended trip next year. A new program at the Lodi Public Library allows patrons to learn languages online for free at the library, from home or on their mobile device.
Teen librarian Behjat Kerdegari explained that the library offered language courses, with CDs and books available for checkout, for years. But the cost of replacing damaged disks or lost books grew to thousands of dollars, and there was always a waiting list for the materials. In July, the library contracted with Mango Languages online language-learning system.
“The thing is, some of what we had wasn’t being used, like Korean, Vietnamese and Ukranian,” she said. “We had to take a new look at it.”
Other area libraries, including the Sacramento County system, use Mango Languages. The program offers 38 languages for English speakers, and 13 courses for non-English speakers to pick up the language. The Lodi Public Library subscribed to a package of 12 courses of 100 lessons each. The program cost the library $2,475 for one year. Library patrons can learn French, Spanish, Italian, German, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Urdu, or take an English course for native Spanish speakers.
“These languages are very much in demand,” Kerdegari said. “People want to get jobs overseas, or travel, or even for their own improvement.”
The subscription includes a database to track which languages are most popular among Lodi patrons and how many times the lessons are accessed. If users create a profile within the program, they can download a mobile app to take lessons from their smartphone or tablet. The profile tracks progress from one lesson to the next. One feature allows users translate recorded audio from one language to another.
Creating a profile is not required to use Mango Languages. Users can log on as guests using their library card numbers.
At the end of the first year, the library will have a chance to change up the languages offered based on patron demand.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.