Learn Languages On The Go

Nicole Battista, Reporter

Hello, hola, bonjour, ciao!

Librarians at the Mary Kintz Bevevino Library want students to know that it offers Mango, a database for languages. It is free and available with an app, which is compatible with iPhones and Android devices.

The database is user-friendly, according to Hilary Westgate, Information Literacy Librarian.

Students can create an account on a computer and once they download the app, log-in.

Westgate said the database was promoted Feb. 12 during the “Love Your Library” event, which was part of the Library Marketing Committee’s effort to highlight a database but also provide a fun event for students. It included a photo booth, drawings, raffles and three demonstrations about the Mango language database.

Andrea Fondots, student worker at the library and junior psychology major, compared Mango to programs such as Duolingo.

“It walks you through different sentences to teach you the language, and then it builds off of what you have already learned.”

Users are able to learn different languages at the same time, and the database records the lessons that users complete, she said.

Mango offers visual images, written words, pronunciation, and it provides words in context, said President Thomas Botzman, who attended the demonstration.

The database includes full length movies in different languages, which Fondots said is the coolest part. Movies occasionally pause and explain the dialogue and the action of the scenes.

Fondots said this is important to understand how dialogue is used, and it “shows you the slang, their sense of humor – stuff you just do not get” from a classroom lecture.

Botzman said learning a language is “not just figuring out how the words fit together, but how one actually uses the language.”

Westgate said the database allows users to listen to a single part as many times as they need, and it allows users to record their voices.

The database also includes cultural notes that explain “the proper way to speak to a stranger versus a familiar person.”

Mango offers 61 languages for English speaking people and 17 courses for English language learners.

Westgate said she has helped English as a Second Language students with research, and she said it would be nice to be able to speak with them in the language that they are most comfortable.

Mango requires a self-motivated person, Westgate said.

Mango is also interactive. Fondots said that, “you have to talk back to it” and a person may not be able to do it in a quiet place, like the Library.

Fondots said that it takes time, “but learning anything takes up time.”

Botzman said he would have used software like Mango when he was living abroad “to tune up” so he could enjoy the experience even more.

Botzman retained his foreign language skills he gained in high school and during his experiences living in Europe and teaching in Mexico. He learned to speak some French and Luxemburgish as well as some Spanish without lessons.

Fondots said she would use Mango as a refresher to improve her French skills. Fondots spoke French in high school and participated in a foreign exchange program that sent her to France. College life has faded her French language skills, she said.

Botzman said he has “a strong hunch” that most students would like to improve skills they obtained through previous classes.

A benefit to the Mango database, according to Westgate, is how it will affect studying abroad.

“If students learn the language before they go abroad,” Westgate said, “that would be a huge help.”

Fondots said that the lack of foreign language classes could limit students to English speaking countries, but this database could expand language abilities enough to make them confident to visit non-English speaking countries.

Fondots also said that if students take advantage of the database and take the time to learn, the university might expand service trip sites.

Botzman said he would love to see every student have the opportunity to go abroad, intern or go on a service trip.

Study abroad enables students to apply classroom learning in a real world situation, Botzman said. That could include “volunteering at Noxen Food Bank or working with children in a school or going to another country.”

This database has been around for a few years, but usage was very low, Westgate said. Normally the next step would be to get rid of it, but this database became very important with the new language course offerings on campus.

Westgate hopes the database will complement those classes, and Botzman believes the acquisition of new languages helps students to broaden their horizons – in more ways than one.

“I believe for us to be a truly effective university, we have to educate the whole person,” Botzman said. “That means learning about the sciences and math so we can think about critical thinking skills, learning about writing to express ourselves, learning communication, learning about our field of inquiry whether it be nursing or business.”

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