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E-Town Library’s New Language Program Off to Promising Start

After just a month and a half, the new Mango Languages program is showing promise at the Elizabethtown Public Library.

As of the second week of June, 192 people have signed up for the online language study program; they are studying 16 languages. There were 134 sessions in May; 34 people are using the program on mobile devices.

Library Director Deb Drury said in an interview that she wasn’t sure how much use she should expect, but she feels it is getting good use.

“That we have a couple of hundred is, I think, a pretty good beginning,” Drury said.

The program is also in use at the Manheim Township, Ephrata and Lititz libraries. Ephrata is the only one of those that Drury had usage statistics for; there were 869 users in 2018, but Ephrata had the program for the entire year.

Drury said people have been using the program for various reasons. Some are planning travel abroad; at least one library user has neighbors who do not speak English as a native language and wanted to make the neighbors feel welcome.

“They used it to just be able to have a little bit of dialogue,” Drury said.

In another case, a family who had just adopted a son learned that the son’s grandparents speak only Spanish. Rather than having the child interpret all the time, the adoptive parents decided to learn Spanish.

Another big use of the system that surprised Drury was its use to teach English.

“I really didn’t know that that was a big part of it,” Drury said.

Unlike many language instruction programs, Mango Languages teaches English from multiple perspectives, depending on the learner’s native language. The instruction is based on similar language groups rather than attempting to have customized instruction for every possible native language.

“It may not be exactly their native language; it will be close,” Drury said.

The program offers many different languages to study. Languages studied by Elizabethtown Public Library users include Spanish, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, French, Swedish, German, Serbian, Latin, Greek, Arabic and Pirate.

Yes, Pirate, as in swashbuckling and walking the plank.

Drury said a novelty language like Pirate is helpful, no matter how crazy it may sound.

“They have a lot of fun with their program, and I think that that helps,” Drury said.

Elizabethtown Public Library users who want to learn a new language can sign up for Mango Languages at the front desk of the library. It is only available to library card holders whose home library is Elizabethtown.

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