There are many reasons and benefits to learning a foreign language. It may improve academic skills, aid in brain development, and slow aging. It could also help you achieve some career goals (there is an urgent requirement for qualified speakers of languages other than English in areas of science, technology, medicine and global commerce). It could definitely help you in your plans to travel the world. For example, the ''Impact of Second Language Education Study'' commissioned by Alberta Education found people with a second language can adapt better to varying cultural contexts. So not only can having a second language help you increase your capacity to communicate, but also your cultural sensitivity.

So, why not start this life-enhancing project? f you’re thinking of traveling abroad in the near or distant future, you might as well start now to be ready. There is also no better time than to improve your academic and/or career prospects. If you’re an older adult, you need to keep your brain fit - it’ll give you something to do and provide the pleasure of learning.

Fortunately for us all, the library provides free first-class language learning resources. They come in various formats but most noteworthy is our subscription to Mango Languages. An online tool that gives you access to lessons in 60+ languages, this database provides audio tutorials to practice reading, listening, and speaking. Easy to use audio clips and written text combine to take you through each course. The lessons offer a carefully constructed sequence of lessons, using native speakers and everyday conversations. Unlike a lot of language-learning software, the focus is on learning the “natural way”: considering slang, “natural” sentence structure and “natural” pronunciation in all lessons so that you can learn to understand and replicate the native way of engaging in conversation.

Also available through Mango Languages are a collection of English as a Second Language courses, catering to and spoken in various world languages found among Canada's immigrant community.

The best thing about Mango Languages is that it is free using your County of L&A Libraries card (compare that to the $100s you’ll spend on Rosetta Stone). Your smartphone, tablet or computer all make great platforms for Mango Languages. You can download the app to your tablet or smartphone from the app store or android market and sign in with your library credentials (library card number and PIN). You’ll also need your library card to create a profile, which you can use to track your progress.

Get started with Mango Languages by clicking here