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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Multilingualism - the Swiss Army Knife of Skills

What's the benefit of being fluent in more than one language? It's easier to ask, "What isn't?" Being multilingual can make you a valuable, sought-after employee and a more comfortable, accomplished traveler. A 2009 report by a research team appointed by the European Commission found "an increasing amount of strong evidence of versatile knowledge of languages being beneficial for the usage of an individual's brain." I can't speak for you but anything that would improve the usage of my brain would be most welcome! There are countless, more humble benefits as well: fewer embarrassing moments trying to order off that French or Italian menu (you know who you are, people who pronounce "Caprese" like "caprice"), less frustration with all the non-English words in the New York Times crossword puzzle and a new-found appreciation for a world of books, movies and music that were previously less meaningful to you.

The Des Plaines Public Library recently rearranged its language learning collection to make it even easier for you to browse, select and enjoy these resources. Our language learning books, CDs and DVDs have been consolidated into the new "Language Center" on the fourth floor on the west side of the elevators. Easily organized by language, you can see at a glance what's available for Czech, Irish, Japanese, Swahili and Urdu - more than 60 languages in all. And yes, we have plenty of resources for learning English as well as information about gaining US citizenship. Bring the CDs in the car with you or copy them onto your iPod and you'll have a portable language lab wherever you go.

One of our most exciting language resources is available on your computer all the time - all you need is a valid DPPL card. It's called Mango Languages - click and start using Mango. Mango provides fun, interactive online instruction for 35 languages, including English instruction for speakers of 15 other languages! Mango's attractive interface really does make learning fun and exciting and accessing it couldn't be easier. From our Reference menu: choose Research Databases A-Z, then choose Mango. Type in your library card number and start learning.

So whether you're planning an overseas trip or vacation, eager to get something fresh and useful on your resumé or college app, wishing it was easier to make conversation with your abuela or babcia, or simply want to learn a language for the joy of it, we have more help than ever before. Stop by our Language Center on the 4th floor and try Mango Languages today!

Here's a full list of Mango languages:
  • Arabic
  • Chinese (Cantonese)
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dari
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Farsi (Persian)
  • Finnish
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Haitian Creole
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian
  • Irish
  • Italian
  • Japanese 
  • Korean
  • Norwegian
  • Pashto
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Russian
  • Slovak
  • Spanish (Latin America)
  • Tagalog
  • Tamil
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese

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