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Library program teaches languages
Mango system can be accessed at home
Denise Leeson, youth services specialist with the Forsyth County Public Library, talks about the system’s new Mango Languages program. - photo by Autumn McBride
Denise Leeson translated “welcome to the library” in more than 20 languages on a recent afternoon.The youth services specialist at the Cumming branch of the Forsyth County Public Library has been getting ready for the library’s newest offering: Mango Languages.Leeson used the computer program’s translation tool during the demonstration, but she’s also been testing out some of the language lessons.The free service will be available starting Monday to anyone with a library card. It can be accessed at any branch or from any other computer with Internet access.Mango’s library version offers 22 foreign languages — including Spanish, French, German, Italian and Japanese — and 14 courses in English as a second language.Basic conversational skills can be learned for each, but most languages also have a comprehensive program that teaches full understanding.“For several years now, patrons have been asking for this,” said Linda Kelly, the library’s assistant director for materials.Library staff members were most impressed with the Mango program, Kelly said, but could only find room for a limited package in the system’s budget.The FCPL Friends & Advocates donated the extra money so library users could access the full version and the long list of languages that comes with it.In the program, users can flip through lessons that teach phrases, cultural nuances and pronunciation.“It even has voice recognition where it can tell if you’re saying it correctly,” Kelly said.The library will have headsets with microphones and headphones available, but Kelly expects that most people will use the program at home.“I think it’ll be a wonderful benefit to Forsyth County,” she said.The Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce has expressed great interest in the Mango program offering, Kelly said.Randall Toussaint, the chamber’s vice president for economic development, said the English as a second language programs will be a great resource for international businesses locating in the county.Forsyth boasts 49 international companies, which Toussaint said is one of the highest concentrations in Georgia.He said the availability of English-training resources is a common question when the chamber is recruiting foreign firms.“The [Mango] program itself is a direct complement to what our global commerce needs are and what we’re hearing from our businesses,” he said.Putting the program online also gives greater reach and easier access, said Toussaint, who added he plans to give German and Japanese a shot.