Sunday, July 11, 2010

Learning languages online

Today’s Ledger-Enquirer includes a story I wrote about my experience using Mango, an online language-learning system that the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries began offering for free to library card holders in the fall. Just go to the library Web site, scroll down and click on the Mango icon on the right.

Mango is offered at many libraries across the country, so if you’re not a local reader, check your own library Web site to see if it's available.

For a few weeks I was diligently doing a Spanish lesson or two a night as a way to begin to fulfill a long-held desire to finally learn Spanish without having to commit to taking a class. I’ve fallen off the horse as I got busy preparing for Owen’s birthday, but I plan to return to the interactive lessons, which you can do from home, in my own lackluster, haphazard way whenever I have time.

Once I get some elementary proficiency (perhaps years from now?), I need to find a Spanish-speaking conversation partner. There are plenty of online resources beyond Mango that can help you learn languages from French to Arabic:

My Language Exchange allows you to form e-mail, penpal or voice chat partnerships with people who speak the language you are learning. The site is grounded in the Cormier method of language exchange, in which small mixed groups of native speakers of two languages spend half the time speaking in one language and half the time in the other language. also helps you find a pen-pal for language learning.

And sites like offer online lessons, as well as word-of-the-day e-mail options, and more to members. (Membership is free but I haven’t joined, so I can’t vouch for the usefulness of the site.)