Monday, June 15, 2015

Tools for Language Learning

Whether you're planning a summer vacation or hoping to land a legal job abroad, it never hurts to become familiar with a foreign language. The Duke University Libraries offer access to two subscription databases for language learning, which are available to current students, faculty, and staff. Both use an audiovisual "flash card" style to reinforce lessons.

Transparent Language Learning, formerly known as Byki, has been available to the Duke community for several years. Transparent Language Learning features more than 50 foreign-language modules (from Afrikaans to Zulu) as well as English-language learning modules designed specifically for native speakers of more than two dozen languages. Lessons reinforce all four major skills required to truly learn a language: reading, listening, speaking, and writing.

Pronunciator is a newer addition to the Duke Libraries' collection. Offering 80 language choices, as well as 50 customized ESL modules, Pronunciator provides flash card instruction as well as interactive quizzes. Individual languages are broken into sub-modules such as a condensed "travel prep" lesson. Lessons may also be downloaded for offline instruction.

Both Transparent and Pronunciator require the setup of individual usernames and passwords in order to save your personal learning progress. Access both databases for the first time through the Duke University Libraries' website in order to authenticate as a valid subscriber. After your username and password has been created, you can access the sites without authenticating through Duke first. Both services also offer mobile apps to take your language learning on the go.

Not a Duke community member? Pronunciator is also available to North Carolina residents through the NC Live consortium. NC Live offers access to hundreds of subscription databases through a user's "home" public or academic library. Access Pronunciator via your library at

For help with accessing Duke databases, be sure to Ask a Librarian.