Patrons at the Waukegan Public Library are learning new languages using a software program they can access for free on any computer or handheld device with Internet capabilities.
Mango Languages offers courses in 39 foreign languages, as well as lessons in English for speakers of 15 other languages, including Spanish.
"If you look at the language learning software on the market now, it's really cost-prohibitive," said Richard Lee, the library's executive director. "I'm thrilled we can give our patrons the opportunity to pick up new languages or perfect their English for free. All it takes is a library card."
Lee believes Mango will be particularly helpful to the growing segment of Spanish speakers in the community.
By combining real-life situations and audio from native speakers, the software helps users acquire and build conversation skills in whatever language they choose.
Lessons focus on topics like greetings and goodbyes, vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and culture.
Patrons can log on to Mango from home at any time of day, or at the library's computer lab during regular library hours.
To access the software, visit the library's website, www.waukeganpl.org, and look under Reference Tools and Online Resources. Call the library at (847) 623-2041 with any questions.