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Language-learning software now available through library

BARSTOW • The San Bernardino Public Libraries have made available language-learning software accessible for free for anyone with a library card, and officials at the Barstow branch believe the tutorials will fill a need.

Mango Languages is an online language-learning tool that library members can access from anywhere with an Internet connection. The software is not only for English speakers but also contains English as a second language tutorials for speakers of most major languages.

Debbie Medina, branch manager for the Barstow Public Library, said that language materials are in high demand and that the library only has one or two items available to loan out.

“People come in looking for (language-learning) materials and they have to wait a long time because the books and CD-ROMs come from other libraries and a lot of people want them,” said Medina.

Medina said that just the other day a man came in to check out materials for his wife, who was due to arrive from Vietnam and does not speak English. While a Vietnamese-to-English book would be hard to come by at the Barstow branch, she was able to direct him to the Mango tutorial.

The Barstow branch also plans to use the software’s ESL capabilities in conjunction with their adult literacy program. Medina estimated that 40 percent of those enrolled in the program are non-native English speakers.

The software was purchased by the Inland Library System,  which oversees 19 public library systems with over 100 branches in San Bernardino, Riverside, and Inyo counties.

Susan Erickson, Executive Director of Inland Library Systems, said that ILS was looking to purchase a language-learning system for library members and heard pitches from the top three companies. Mango won out because they offered fifteen ESL programs, she said.

“The decision (to buy the program) wasn’t made in a vacuum,” she said. “It was made by committee.”

Erickson said that the Mango language tutorial offers different levels of instruction with an introductory level for travelers and an advanced level for those wish to become fluent.
Barstow Library employee Steve Smith said that he has tried out the system for himself and found the experience enjoyable.

“It was really kind of fun,” said Smith, who gave the Spanish tutorial a try. “There is a feature I like where you can speak into a microphone to record what you are saying and compare it to the voice on the program.”

Erickson declined to say how much ILS paid for the tutorial, saying that they had an agreement with the software’s manufacturer not to disclose a price.   

Contact the writer:

(760) 256-4126 or adome@desertdispatch.com


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