BELLOWS FALLS, Vermont – Four months ago, the Rockingham Free Public Library in Bellows Falls launched a new program that makes conversational language learning program Mango available to the public. With this computer program, one can go online and access courses in 30 languages. Considered most useful for travelers who want to quickly learn how to communicate with those they might meet, library manager Ian Graham says it’s also very useful for interacting with people learning English, for self-improvement, for those studying their ancestry from non-English speaking locations and as a conversational complement to formal language study such as school.
Anyone with a Rockingham library card can access this program through the library’s regular online services. Cards are free to all Rockingham residents and available for an annual fee to residents of other cities.
The 30 available languages range from Spanish, French and German to three Afghani languages and four Arabic languages, Ukrainian, Swahili, Yiddish and Korean, and more obscure languages like Scottish Gaelic, Icelandic, Haitian Creole and Telugu. There are three versions of Greek: Ancient, Kolne, and Modern.
Bellows Falls resident Jeanie Levesque, who is a career language teacher, says, “I’ve looked at the program – some of the options, and I agree it’s a ‘a great resource for language learning, especially as we are in a rural state with limited opportunities to take classes or meet speakers of other languages. She went on to say, “What a program like this works best for is those who want to learn some basic knowledge and a cultural background.”
Graham says some patrons requested the program, but the library’s budget did not allow it. When a donor came forward, it was purchased for a year. They will now assess its reception and frequency of use. Library staff member Virgil Fuller says, “A lot of people say it’s very engaging and user-friendly.” He also says usage has increased in the four months they’ve now provided it. He reports that the languages studied in order of popularity are English, Latin American Spanish, Korean, Dari, Icelandic, French, Japanese, Ukrainian and Shakespearean English. Graham says that, “If it maxes out at a level that we like, that’s definitely a win. And while it’s a little different type of app for a library, it’s educational, and it certainly fits in in there.”
It’s all part of the new Rockingham Library programming. Youth Services Librarian Samantha Maskell has secured a grant from the Ministry of Education for this year’s summer reading program which will provide the community with a ‘velomobile’. Instead of the traditional bookmobile in the form of a motorhome or bus that would appear at various locations to bring books and library services to the community, Rockingham will have an electric motor-assisted ‘tricycle’ at three-wheeler operated by a trainee student who will have a regular schedule of stops going all the way to Saxtons River to provide youth-oriented library services to those who cannot easily access the library itself.
Anyone interested can contact the library at 802-463-1566 or at www.rockinghamlibrary.org.