Connect to the World @ your library


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In an increasingly global society, your library can help you communicate.
By Greg Landgraf

José Becerril found practical help to maintain and grow his business when his local public library opened a branch near his home.

Becerril owns B&B Taxi Service in Mount Prospect, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago near O’Hare Airport. A native of Mexico City, he already speaks English and Spanish, but he noticed something about his clients: An ever-growing number spoke Japanese. He wanted to find a way to keep serving them, and to increase business among other Japanese-speakers.

When Mount Prospect Public Library opened a branch library near Becerril’s home last August, he stopped in for a solution. The branch’s staff recommended language-learning CDs, which he’s using to learn Japanese in his car.

Becerril’s story demonstrates that the prospect of learning a new language shouldn’t conjure images of a concrete-walled high-school classroom with bored students unenthusiastically reciting. “Language learning has quickly evolved from a traditionally broad, classroom-style approach to an interactive and customizable experience designed for individual users,” says Jason Teshuba, CEO of Mango Languages.  “As a result, today’s language learning concepts greatly enhance the speed and efficiency with which students learn to speak a new language.” Mango Languages offers online language-learning software in 22 languages and 14 ESL courses. Many libraries nationwide—including Mount Prospect—subscribe to the software and offer access to their patrons in the library or through their home computers.

In addition to CDs and Mango Languages, Mount Prospect Public Library offers language-learning books, CD-ROMs, DVDs, cassettes, downloadable audiobooks, and audiobooks preloaded on mp3 players in a total of 24 languages. While each library’s offerings will be different, most libraries will have a variety of materials to support your efforts to learn a new language.


Valued in the Workplace

As the economy has become increasingly globalized, the very foundation of work in many fields has become globalized as well. “Growing recognition that language learning is evolving from luxury into necessity is filtering its way into the workplace,” Teshuba says.

Speaking a second language can have tangible benefits as well. According to Young Money, a 2005 survey conducted by Rosetta Stone found that Americans who speak at least one foreign language can earn $10,000 more a year than those who don’t.

“The ability to converse knowledgably and comfortably with someone who doesn’t share your linguistic background is the quickest and best way to make an authentic and powerful connection,” Teshuba says. “Improvements in information technology and increasingly ubiquitous communication tools are making those connections more important than ever.”



Check with your local library for the resources that they have on the specific foreign language you’re interested in learning. Or, for some interesting perspectives on other aspects of language learning, try some of these works:

Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language
by Katherine Rossell Rich
Rich’s memoir of her time spent in India learning Hindi is also a treatise on the nature of linguistics, an ode to the alchemy of language, and a revelatory exposé of the dark side of cultural immersion.

The Story of Human Language
Teaching Company (DVD)
A 36-part course on DVD on the origins and evolution of language.

Encyclopedia of Bilingual Education
Edited by Josué M. González
An overview of bilingual education—the use of two languages in teaching in K-12 schools—in the United States.



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