Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Online Tools for Language Instruction

As law study becomes increasingly global in nature, we are sometimes asked whether the Goodson Law Library offers any CDs, DVDs or other resources for learning a foreign language. While the Ford Library at the Fuqua School of Business contains a Language Instruction section with books and CDs, the Duke University Libraries are also investigating some online subscription-based language tools and could use your help in evaluating a possible purchase.

There are four databases under consideration, which will be evaluated in groups of two. Right now, trials of Byki and Mango are accessible to the Duke University community (with a NetID and password) until October 31. Take advantage of these free trials to brush up on your skills, and share your impressions with the library staff via the online comment form.
  • Byki offers more than 80 language modules, using an interactive flash-card style to teach vocabulary and pronunciation. English speakers can choose from a long list of languages, from Afrikaans to Zulu, while English-as-a-second-language modules are available for a variety of languages (including Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, and Japanese).
  • Mango’s 48 language courses include 14 ESL options. Courses for each language are broken into three levels: Basic (for introductory conversation), Complete 1.0 (an intermediate stage) and Complete 2.0 (more advanced vocabulary and grammar). Each level is comprised of several lessons which focus on a particular topic (such as basic greetings, asking for assistance, or shopping vocabulary).
After the completion of the Byki and Mango trials, the libraries will also test the popular Rosetta Stone product and another language instruction database called Tell Me More. Bookmark the Duke Libraries’ Database Trials page to access the current language trials and to keep abreast of the next language instruction trials.

If you don’t have a current Duke NetID to access the trials, you may be interested in OpenCulture’s list of Free Foreign Language Lessons Online, with links to free podcasts for nearly 40 languages, including a collection for English as a second language.