The West Linn Public Library has a plethora of foreign language resources

Not everyone had the benefit of learning a foreign language in school. And many of us who did learn a language have since forgotten all but a few words and phrases. So what happens when you’re planning a trip to another country and you want to learn — or re-learn — a foreign language? Classes are great but they can be time-consuming. You can buy language learning software to install on your computer, but that can be expensive.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Available resources include audio primers.

Fortunately the library has a number of resources available to help you learn a foreign language. Your first stop should be the foreign language section of the nonfiction collection, where you can find books and language CDs for a wide range of languages and ability levels. You’ll also find foreign language dictionaries. The Library2Go digital collection ( also has downloadable language audiobooks, including the popular “Learn in Your Car” series.

You’ll also find a great collection of foreign films at the library. Watching a film in which the actors are speaking the language is a great way to hear the language and conversations. You get to hear the language as it’s really spoken and pick up on the right accent as well. It’s also a great way to learn about another country’s culture, traditions and mannerisms. Try to choose a film with slower dialogue or, even better, try a movie that is geared toward kids.

With your library card you also have access to a new resource called Prounciator. It includes 80 languages, everything from Spanish to Urdu. It uses a combination of virtual coaching, pronunciation analysis, audio lessons and scored quizzes to provide intensive reinforcement of what is learned. Each language has up to up to 10,000 phrases and up 350 hours of audio lessons.

You can download up to 90 audio lessons each month, which is about 60 hours of content and it’s all free with your library card! Go to, click the Online Resources link, click on Pronunciator, then log in with your library card. You’ll be asked to create a free account so you can track your progress.

If you like to learn on the go instead of in front of your computer, you can still use Pronunciator, which has apps available for both Apple and Android phones and tablet. Just install the free app, login, and you can pick up where you left off.

If you’re traveling abroad there are some useful resources you can find online. The Kwintessential website ( has cultural guides that provide gift-gifting etiquette, dining etiquette, and more for many different countries.

If you need to brush up on your Spanish skills a conversation group meets at the West Linn Public Library every Tuesday, 6-8 p.m. Everyone is welcome, no matter your ability.

Cheryl Hill is librarian at the West Linn Public Library

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