At the Library: Online Language Courses

Hola, amigos! Comment allez-vous? Rydw i’n iawn diolch.

Wait a minute! Rydw i’n iawn diolch? Yes. That’s Welsh for “I am fine.”

Welcome to Transparent Language Online, a language-learning service with over 80 language options including English for speakers of other languages.French

Accessed via the Cheshire Public Library website, library (“la bibliothèque” in French) cardholders can learn everything from Afrikaans to Zulu. Transparent Language Online features listening, reading, speaking, and writing exercises, as well as pronunciation analysis, vocabulary exercises, conversational language courses, and video grammar lessons. C’est vrai!

It has great features like Quick Start. Here, you’ll find a series of 10 simple lessons that will teach you 100 of the most useful words and phrases that form the foundation of your chosen language. The program will automatically track your progress, so you can start and stop any time without losing your place. This section is really useful. Kan du hjälpa mig? (“Can you help me?” in Swedish.) Molim te. (“Please” in Croatian.) An bheori. (“Beer” in Irish.)

And then there’s Vocabulary. The list in the sidebar shows the many subjects you have to choose from such as Asking for Directions, At the Hotel, and the all-important Bathroom. One of my favorite vocab lists? Dessert! Ah, what I wouldn’t give for some il cioccolato right now!

Reference. This is an assortment of useful tools to help you learn more about your language of choice: Grammar Tips, a Quick-Help Grammar Reference list, and History, which has interesting tidbits about the language. If you are studying Latin, you will discover that much of English vocabulary comes from ancient Rome, and our everyday communications are peppered with Latin phrases like et cetera and per capita.

ItalianLearned Items. Here, you can keep track of the vocabulary terms you’ve mastered and refresh your memory of learned items that you have not recently practiced. Each learned item is classified as “fresh” (meaning that you have practiced it recently or mastered it through repeated practice) or “stale” (meaning that it may be at risk of being forgotten). And let me tell you, being fluent in a language beats carrying around a kamusi (“dictionary” in Swahili).


Foreign Language Books for the Younger Set

Did you know that there is a small collection of nonfiction books, picturebooks, and chapter books in the children’s section in languages other than English? From dictionaries to long time children’s favorites, we have something to interest most readers that either speak two or more languages or want to learn. We also have some DVD’s to teach foreign languages to children, or adults like myself that have trouble learning new language. Here is a small selection of the books from some of the languages we have on the shelf.

ABC x 3 : English, Español, Français by Marthe Jocelyn and Tom Slaughter.
French Phrase Book by Jane Wightwick and Wina Gunn with illustrations by Leila Gaafar and Robert Bowers.
Bonsoir Lune by Margaret Wise Brown with illustrations de Clement Hurd.
Babar a New York by Laurent de Brunhoff.
Le Hibou et la Poussiquette (freely translated into French from the English of Edward Lear’s “The owl and the pussy-cat.”) with illustrations by Barbara Cooney.
Le Bon Lion by Louise Fatio with images by Roger Duvoisin.

Nancy la Elegante by Jane O’Connor with illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser, translation by Liliana Valenzuela.
De Colores (Bright with colors) pictures by David Diaz.
Me llamo Gabito: la Vida de Gabriel García Márquez (My Name is Gabito: The Life of Gabriel García Márquez) by Monica Brown and illustrated by Raúl Colón.
El Ratoncito de la Moto by Beverly Cleary with translation by Lydia Permanyer Netto
La Ardilla Listada by Patricia Whitehouse with translation by Patricia Abello
Te Amo, Bebé, Little One by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Maribel Suárez.
La Araña muy Ocupada by Eric Carle.
Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J.K. Rowling and translation by Alicia Dellepiane

Milet Picture Dictionary, English-Chinese text by Sedat Turhan and illustrations by Sally Hagin.
To Grandmother’s House: A Visit to Old-Town Beijing with text and photographs by Douglas Keister.

The Jewish kids’ Hebrew-English Wordbook by Chaya M. Burstein.
Count Your Way Through Israel by James Haskins,

My First Book of Italian Words by Katy R. Kudela with translation by
Count Your Way Through Italy by Jim Haskins with illustrations by Beth Wright
Italian Bilingual Dictionary: A Beginner’s Guide in Words and Pictures by Gladys C. Lipton and John Colaneri.

My First Book of Japanese Words by Katy R. Kudela with translations by
Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!: A Story of Friendship in Two Languages by Eric Carle
A Place Where Sunflowers Grow (Sabaku ni Saita Himawari) by Amy Lee-Tai
Count Your Way Through Japan by James Haskins

For even further language resources come check out our foreign language shelf in the children’s room, the instructional DVD’s, or either of the two electronic resources our library offers access to; Muzzy Online and Transparent Language Online.

Susan Picks: Foreign Films

I like foreign films as a form of foreign language practice.  The people speak at a normal rate and use conversational words as they would if you went to their country. But, like most people, if it’s a language I don’t know well, I tire of the gibberish after five minutes, and I rarely have time to sit and watch subtitles. On the other hand, I like foreign films because they aren’t the same repetitive formulaic Hollywood boredom.  They often rely heavily on character development, less on action, and are hard on irony.  The sceneries are often exotic and intriguing, ways of life (like collapsible yurts and nomadic circles) so very different – yet oddly similar – to America in all its forms. You sympathize with the main characters and feel their pain.  Here’s a weekend’s worth of films that you probably haven’t heard of and are well worth your trouble:

Since Otar Left – a Georgian film about three generations of women who haven’t heard from their bread-winning relative in ages, and imagine how well he’s doing as they wait for him to call.  Kind of like Waiting for Godot in Sochi.

Tulpan – a Kazakhstani film about a young nomadic sheepherder named Asa who returns after serving in the Russian Navy and wants a wife – but try and find one on the empty steppe. Then there are the crazy traditional courting rituals to be conquered … 


Combination Platter – a story about an illegal Chinese immigrant trying to live out the American promise while working like a slave in a Chinese restaurant and dodging the terror of immigration.


9th Company – a modern Russian film about their futile 1980’s war in Afghanistan, a no-holds-barred action thriller every bit as good as any American movie.  You might have hated them in 1980, but you will cheer for them now.

[Cover]Vitus – a sweet Swiss film about a little boy whose parents help push him to be a brilliant concert pianist by the age of nine – but all he really wants to be is a little boy.

Travel the world from your recliner and give one a try today!

Allons-y! To the Foreign Language Books!

Did you know the Cheshire library has a wonderful collection of books printed in foreign languages? From Histoire de la Mafia by Gaetano 20130522-140621.jpgFalzone, to Charlotte Link’s Das Haus der Schwestern, there is a wide variety of both fiction and non-fiction books in French, German, and Spanish. These are located in a special area of the upstairs Moss Room; just ask and we’ll be happy to open it for you.

In the children’s room, there are beginning storybooks and alphabet books in Russian, Spanish, Latin, French, and Chinese. We are also able to request books in Russian, Polish, and more from surrounding libraries.


If listening to language is more your style, check out an audiobook to learn a new language or improve your skills in Spanish, Italian, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese, Hebrew, and more (Dewey number 468). Are you a foreign speaker trying to learn English? We have discs for that as well. There are audiobook language sets geared for children, too. Prefer an online approach where no one can hear you stumble? Check out the free on-line language programs on our website.

Grab your dictionary, dust off your skills, and with a little practice, you’ll be ready to take on our foreign films without subtitles!