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Image from Library and Archives Canada, uploaded to the Apt613 flickr pool by Ottawa Architects

Librarian in Residence: Need help learning another language?

By Jessica Green on September 14, 2015

Jessica Green is a book addict and library card holder since the age of 3. She’s a librarian at the Ottawa Public Library and currently the Apartment613 Librarian-in-Residence, sharing a compendium of literary thoughts and tips.

Owing to the peculiar business of government here in Ottawa (and being spread over two provinces), many people are busy trying to learn either English or French for their jobs. Learning languages is hard work, but studies have shown that learning a second language may stave off dementia, and helps with abstract thinking and problem solving. Whether you are learning your second or seventh language, the Ottawa Public Library has many items available to help you. There are books, DVDs and audio CDs in the collection that can help you learn those other languages. I recommend trying a variety of items as you never know which one will be the one that clicks with the way you learn. There are also some great online resources that can help you brush up on your language skills. Here are some of my preferred ones:

  • L’Amour des temps helps you improve your grammar in French. You select your level and work through exercises to help solidify your language skills.
  • If you need to brush up on some skills in English, there’s Active Reading and Business Writing which should help with comprehension and clarity.
  • Mango Languages is really neat. Once you sign up for free, you can learn over 70 languages, including Igbo, Japanese, Farsi and even Pirate, as well as English and French. There are over 100 lessons for you to work on learning many aspects of the language you wish to study and there’s even an app you can download to your device of choice to learn on the run.
  • Sometimes the hands on approach is best, so there are many conversation groups that meet in branches around the city to practice either in English or in French. Click here to see if there is a group in a branch near you. They are run by enthusiastic volunteers, so you can practice with other language learners of all levels.

So go and immerse yourself in that language you have always wanted to learn and expand your horizons!

Quick Picks

  • Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory: This is a great little book about drawing and keeping your creative flame going. It’s more accessible for “non-artists” as it just suggest little ideas to get you going and doesn’t bog you down in techniques.
  • 90 Degrees of Shade Image and Identity in the West Indies: One of the most visually striking books I have seen in some time, this book features 100 years of photographs from various countries in the Caribbean. The photos are gorgeous and show different aspects of the countries from holiday resorts to dangerous islands close to North America. Absolutely stunning.
  • The Gods of Gotham by Lindsey Faye: Set in New York during 1845, Timothy Wilde becomes one of the first members of the new police force when his dreams literally go up in smoke after a devastating fire. It is an excellent historical mystery and the start of a new series I look forward to continuing.