Learn a Language for Free

by | Jan 20, 2014

“Dobro pozhalovat’ na Olimpiadu!”

No idea what that says?  Well, you can. For free.  And you can start today assuming you have an Auburn Library card.

Mango Languages is now accessible through the Auburn Public Library web site.  Create an account using your library card number, then get started learning one (or more) of over 60 languages.  It is like the web version of Rosetta Stone, except it is absolutely free .

To be fair, I am probably not going to sound like Alexander Ovechkin after completing 10 chapters in Russian.  But it’s a start.

Mango takes a conversational approach to learning vocabulary, sentence structure, and commonly used phrases, such as “Good afternoon” and “Where’s the restroom?”  For example, the first Chapter is “Greetings, Gratitudes, and Goodbyes.”  The 3 lessons within the chapter take you through these basic introductory phrases.  This will come in very handy should I ever sit next to Anna Kournikova on the Walt Disney World shuttle bus.

The 10 Russian chapters contain a total of 70 lessons.  So this is not an introduction and then sell me a $300 course type of deal.  You can actually learn something.   I focused on Russian in honor of the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, but you can also study much more useful (to us) languages like Spanish. You can even choose the Spain or the Latin American dialect.  If you’re more romantic, choose Italian, or French.

Did I mention it’s free?

I used to travel extensively for work, and aside from a working knowledge of Canadian French (mostly swear words and insults), I speak 1 language. More than once I was told a joke many of you have likely heard:

What do you call someone who speaks 3 languages?  Multilingual.

What do you call someone who speaks 2 languages?  Bilingual.

What do you call someone who speaks one language?  American.

It was funny the first time.  Then it was just plain embarrassing. It is also gut-wrenchingly true.  Worse yet, some segment of our population has this whole “Speak English or go home” mentality going on, which is just so parochial it’s laughable.

I chuckle a little with the latest push for students to learn Mandarin (or another of the million or so Chinese dialects out there), as if to say “Look how enlightened we are here!”  When I was in high school, Japanese was the big thing.  When I was in college, it was Russian.  Those were going to be the epicenters of world trade, so we better learn their languages.

Two things happened: First, their economies subsequently stalled and/or collapsed.  Second, they already speak English better than we do.  So yeah.

At any rate, seeing as how Spanish is like the 4th most spoken language globally, and by far the most common language in the U.S. after English, that seems a good choice for most people. Plus, you’ll already know the important phrases like “yo quiero Taco Bell” and “uno mas cerveza.”   If you’re in for a bigger challenge, you can always hit up Biblical Hebrew.

Whatever your leaning, I really encourage you to check out this service.  You can link to it through the APL website, on the lower right side you’ll see the Mango Languages logo that looks something like this. Click on it, and you’re on your way.  Bon Chance!!