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Your Library May Have More Language Resources Than Just Books!

Bonjour, wonderful people!

I usually go to my local library to browse dictionaries in different languages, language learning books, books in different languages (sadly, I don't usually find French books), and even movies in different languages. But your local library may hold more resources that are "hidden."

For instance, if you're in Chicago, use your library card to access language software called Mango to learn a variety of languages! That software is nice for people going to another country and needs simple sentences to communicate with other people. I did a quick search and found that Chicago libraries may offer even more online resources since I've been there! I'm now at the University of Virginia, and I found out that I can have Rosetta Stone for free from the library! Granted, I bought Rosetta Stone already, so I know the version UVa is offering is the "bare bones" version. If you have an actual subscription (which I had already), you have access to an actual online tutor for short lessons. But the "bare bones" version is also pretty sweet since it's free!

Sadly, these things are almost never announced (people are often surprised when I say the cool resources they could get at their library), so you will have to do some simple digging with your local library's website. Search their website and/or go to the library and ask if there are additional resources for learning languages, and you may find there is more than just books. A heads up: librarians usually never know about these additional resources, so online searches on your library are best. And even if they don't have additional online resources, at least they should have some learning material (hopefully) for the language you are studying. :-)

If you have a local library that offers additional resources to learning languages, please post them here! Even if your local library offers no online resources, let people know what books they have. Let's help everyone learn no matter where they are from!

Happy learning everyone! NtateNarin

May 4, 2017



I love Mango languages! There's a small (1200 students) college near me and I used to access Mango through their library but they discontinued their subscription :(

You can buy personal subscriptions, too, though! I haven't looked into the pricing recently but it might be worth it if you're a student or teacher and about to have some free hours this summer.


Thanks for your input Lrtward! Back when I was using Mango, I wasn't a fan of learning full sentences, but I realized it will be great for travelers that need to know what to say, instead of complex grammar. I'm not sure how Mango changed since then, but I still have my library card, so I think I will use it again!

Also, thanks for letting us know that they discontinued their subscription for certain libraries. I did a quick check and found out it is still in Chicago libraries. Either that or they never updated their website and Mango was canceled (it happens).


It was my library that discontinued the subscription, sorry, I wasn't clear. Libraries pay for the Mango Languages service, or access, or whatever it's called. I think it was too expensive for them, given the number of folks that utilized the service, so they decided to spend their budget elsewhere.

I like how it broke the sentence down into parts of speech, and emphasized pronunciation and grammar, and how you could turn the verbal descriptive help on and off. I'd have it on for a new concept and then turn it off when I just needed to practice.

Plus they offer a TON of languages!!! I only did French and a tiny bit of Korean on it, and it was very good quality (thought I confess I didn't get too far). Not sure if all languages are that high quality or not.


Speaking as a library employee here: This is absolutely true, and I know that the libraries in Salt Lake City offer Mango and Pronunciator for adults, and Muzzy for kids. My library's pretty good about supporting language learning, with books, movies, TV shows, and music in various languages, as well as a dedicated language learning section.

If you're looking for books/DVDs/CDs on language learning and your library uses Dewey Decimal, all the language learning material is going to be in the 400s (English is in the 420s). I'm less familiar with the Library of Congress sorting system, but it looks like language learning materials there start with call number P.

Regarding the point about most librarians not knowing about language learning services, this is technically true. A lot of the people you'll see working at libraries are just there to shelve and so don't really know the intricacies of what the library offers-- they're just not dealing with the programming end of things. If the person you ask doesn't know, they're probably new, so ask them where you might find someone who's been around a lot longer, because they would know.


Thanks a lot for your input Schir1! The reason why I knew about the resources in Chicago was I found a small paper next to the language books about the Mango service, and at the university, I did an exhaustive search. Next time I will definitely try other staff members just in case. :-)


In my city, the library discontinued Mango subscription because...

DUN DUN DUN practically no one was using it. So, about 50-something people used it.


Lots of discontinued Mango subscriptions. I wonder if it is just because not many people know about it, or people preferred something else.


My library replaced it. With LiveMocha.


general FYI only: LiveMocha does not exist anymore (it was acquired by Rosetta Stone).



Some years back you could access whole online Pimsleur courses through my library system's website.


What a deal! Did you get to try it when it was offered? I will admit not knowing much about it.


Yes, I think I did at least some number of hours of German. I learned a few words at least. Pimsleur basically consists of a series of half-hour recordings that operate on a spaced repetition principle. I think Duolingo beats it by a mile, but if you've got a long car trip or something coming up and want to do something additional while behind the wheel, I suppose it could be helpful, particularly for a low-level beginner.

Where I am now, the librar'y language learning materials I'm not so familiar with, but the local library branch has a prominently labeled foreign language books section with options (granted, some quite limited) in at least two dozen languages. Unsurprisingly, living in the U.S., the biggest selection is Spanish, but things run the gamut from picture books in Persian to novels in Polish.


We had Mango, and it was fantastic! Unfortunately, they decided to get rid of it and bring in Livemocha, which I didn't personally find helpful, though it was fun to grade other peoples' English. Then when that went under, they brought in Pronunciator, which is a large pile of garbage.


Livemocha originally was really good. Then Rosetta Stone bought it, ran it into the ground, and killed it. My guess would be you saw the Rosetta Stone version of it.


I do think it was from before it was purchased by Rosetta. It was something about how the courses were set up, along with the variably helpful (and not always accurate) user notes. Now that I recall, what might have been the last straw was attempting a lesson of Japanese and either there wasn't a translation of what was on the screen, or no pronunciation guide.


RS bought them in early April, 2013, giving any subscribers a "lifetime" membership, closed the old interface the next January, and then sank like a stone, folding in early 2016. A very short 3-year °lifetime,° but losing it as revamped by RS was no loss.

It is now a moot point, of course, but Livemocha before 2013 was one of the 3 best sites for language earning I've found. What was really good about the site (IMHO) was the user input/community. You could strike up a friendship easily with people whose feedback you liked. Never tried Japanese, but many of the Russian and French users were great.


I just checked my password manager, which says I was using it in 2012. I mainly stayed in the Spanish section though; maybe the Russian and French courses and community were better? That was another thing that bothered me, that it seemed to rely on other users to grade the work. A few malicious users could really have done some damage.

That's very interesting about the lifetime membership though; our library dropped it/was dropped as soon as Rosetta bought the site. Seems rather strange if they could have had it for free.


I never tried the Spanish section. There may have been a difference between Russian and Spanish because of the proportions of people who wanted to learn the languages. Plenty of English speakers wanted to learn Spanish. Not all that many English speakers wanted to learn Russian--many less than the number of Russian speakers who wanted to learn English--and attempts at Russian by English speakers like me generated plenty of feedback, so that it was easy to encounter very capable and friendly Russian speakers to become acquainted with.

My guess is that RS would not have given out free lifetime site licenses, but just individual licenses like mine. There was a rumor going around back then that what RS wanted was access to information about Livemocha's large user base, ostensibly to try to sell RS to us. Who knows?


With all the good reviews it seems on Mango, I think I'm going to have to try it again! Thanks for your input Devokan and slogger! :-)


De nada. They carry a nice array of languages too. It was pretty funny when they launched Pirate, and I see they still list it. :)


The library is what helped me a lot with my language learning. It's how I was able to use Pimsleur. I don't currently live by a good library unfortunately.


I'm glad you are learning a lot and using your library. Sometimes it's proximity to a library (even if it's in another town, but nearby) that can unlock certain resources for people. Also, I kept my library cards from cities and universities I lived in/attended, so I have more stuff to access till they expire. If anything, I recommend maybe getting a library card from a nearby town. Hopefully, that helps and you are near one.

I wish you the best in your language learning Redrose44444! :-)


I love my local library! Years ago I signed up to get the Rosetta Stone Spanish course. After more than a year of waiting I had it for two weeks before I had to return it. Definitely was not worth the wait!

I would also add that our library has the ability to borrow from other libraries in the state. So if your library doesn't have what you are looking for, maybe your library can do the same and you can borrow it from another library that way. My local librarians have always been really wonderful about helping me acquire any materials around the state that I am looking for!

Great suggestion on checking out the library!


Huh, that's a bit weird. As far as I'm aware, the interlibrary loan system has the library checking to see if any of the other libraries in the world have what you're looking for. It shouldn't just be in-state.


A system that looks at all libraries in the world would be awesome! Unfortunately for me, our system is in fact just state-based.


There is a new thread "Mango Languages: FREE through 30 June 2020" for several/all languages: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/38624978

As a German I finally got Mango working here with the signup in Europe [with full Portuguese (Brazil) access]:


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