Learn a Foreign Language Month

Atoussa Rahimi, an Iranian-born immigrant, instruct the Farsi class at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

December is Learn a Foreign Language Month. Offering foreign language opportunities for your patrons is a wonderful way to boost your library programming and provide added benefit to your patrons. Studies have revealed that language learning supports academic achievement, provides cognitive benefits, and affects attitudes and beliefs about other cultures. Find out more about the benefits of learning a foreign language on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages website.

General Resources

iLoveLanguages features more than 2,400 links to online foreign language resources, including information on online language lessons, translating dictionaries, native literature, translation services, software, and language schools.

Westfield State University Ely Library offers a number of links to online resources, including dictionaries, specific languages, how to teach languages, linguistics, and literature.

Duke University Libraries offers a number of links to resources for teaching foreign languages.

Library Programming

Although not specific to Learn a Foreign Language Month, the following libraries offer a number of ideas for low-cost programming and partnerships you can use to celebrate at your library.

The Lifelong Learning Institute at the Winter Park (Fla.) Public Library offers foreign language classes throughout the year. In August 2013, they offered programs for Italian and Spanish conversation as well as Latin for beginners.

In 2009, the D.C. Public Library partnered with the Global Language Network, a nonprofit language services provider, to offer free foreign language lessons at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial branch. The program featured weekly, two-hour classes on Farsi, Spanish, and Russian.

The Baldwin Public Library (PDF) collaborated with EarlyBirds Learning, a play-based immersion program for children ages one through five, to offer Spanish-language lessons for kids.

The Brooklyn Public Library’s Multilingual Center conducts free conversations in a number of languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, French, Italian, Arabic; free computer training in major world languages; lectures and workshops on citizenship, job training, financial help, and local social services. The center also presents lectures and readings, musical programs, and exhibits that increase awareness of the literary, performing, and folk arts of its patrons’ countries of origin. Book reading events in Spanish, French, and Russian conducted by the Multilingual Center staff are very popular.

The Lancaster (Pa.) Public Library hosts a teen foreign languages club that meets monthly to introduce teens to different languages as well as songs, food, and holidays from different countries.