Speaking of languages

Bonjour! Bula! Buenos!

Your ticket to the world of languages starts at your public library where you have an array of choices and many tools for language learning. This week’s book buzz shows you some of the audio, video, book or online choices for learning to communicate around the world. There are many types of language learning materials. Be sure to tell your librarian exactly what you are looking for.

Happy learning!

Business Chinese

By Jiaying Howard

495.18242 Ho

Text with accompanying CDs

This text focuses on language, conversations and vocabulary needed to transact business in Chinese. Some language instruction materials are aimed at certain social sectors or purposes. For example Japanese for the Travel Industry by Boye Lafayette De Mente, Manchu: A Textbook for Reading Documents by Gertraude Roth Li or Better Reading Spanish: A Reader and Guide to Improving Your Understanding of Written Spanish by Jean Yates or Merde! The Real French You Were Never Taught at School by Genevieve.

Indonesian: World Citizen

From Pimsleur Language


499.221 In

With Pimsleur, you learn by listening, in this case to Indonesian. The program was developed by renowned memory expert, Dr. Paul Pimsleur. He realized that the most important use of memory is in language learning, so he designed a learning program that works for any language. An integrated system, it immerses you in the language, encouraging you to hear, understand and use the language all at the same time. Other audio-based language learning programs are available at your library, such as Speak German with Michel Thomas.

The Arabic Alphabet: How to Read and Write It

By Nicholas Awde and

Putros Smano

492.7 A

Writing in non-Roman alphabets provides a unique learning challenge for English-language-writers. There are many approaches to mastering written characters including texts, such as the above title or workbooks such as 250 Essential Chinese Characters for Everyday Use by Philip Yungkin Lee, or the ingenious Kanji: Pictographix with over 1,000 Japanese Kanji and Kana Mnemonics.

Japanese-English, English-Japanese Dictionary: Includes Romanization and Japanese Characters

By Seigo Nakao

From Random House

495.6321 Na

Your library provides an array of large reference dictionaries for well-used world languages such as Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Tagalog, Ilocano, Russian, Arabic, Persian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian or Hawaiian. You may also be interested in Aussie Slang by Kerrin P. Rowe or Da Kine Dictionary compiled by Lee A. Tonouchi, a delightful guide to Hawaiian pidgin words and phrases with great examples, pidgin definitions, and expressive photographic illustrations.

Learning to Speak English: Pagsasanay Nagsalin ng Salitang Tagalog sa Mga Taong Nag-Aaral ng English sa Pamamagitan ng Cassette

By Barbara Sullivan From the California Language Laboratories

428.3 Ta

This audio CD and book combo introduces English to Tagalog speakers. It features four lessons: Orientation to School, Numbers and Mathematics, Having Fun in the U.S. and A Trip through North America. Other audio/text programs for learning English available at your library are the Living Language American English Pronunciation Program and Coloquial English: A Complete English Language Course. Other types of English learning materials samples are English Made Easy: Learning English through Pictures by Jonathan Crichton which like a pictorial dictionary uses illustrations to convey meaning and context.

Painless Spanish

By Carlos B. Vega, Ph.D.

From Barron’s

468.2421 Ve

The book claims it will teach you that learning a new language is neither dull nor difficult when approached in the right spirit, but can become an enriching experience that broadens your understanding of a different culture. Hmm. You can be the judge. The two-color graphic layout is attractive. Examples of other language learning texts are Fundamental Spoken Chinese by Robert Sanders and Nora Yao, Modern Russian Grammar: A Practical Guide by John Dunn and Shamil Khairov,  Indonesian Idioms and Expressions by Christopher Torchia, Let’s Speak Ilokano by Precy Espiritu or Olelo Oiwi: Hawaiian Language Fundamentals by Kauai’s own Hokulani Cleeland.

Powerspeak Languages: Subscription Database

Available through the HSPLS Website

With your trusty library card, this subscription database is available free on the Hawaii State Public Library System website. Just go online to the library system at www.librarieshawaii.org   click on the tab for Catalogs then E-Databases. Look for the database called Powerspeak, choose a language and get started right away. Specially designed to teach and reinforce language in context with fun and interesting scenarios and multiple exercises. It’s very cool!

Teach Yourself Beginner’s Italian

By Vittoria Bowles Protej

458.3421 Pr

There are full-bodied language programs with both audio CD and text that cover dialog, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and learning exercises such as the title listed above or Hindi: A Complete Course for Beginners from Living Language or Learn Hawaiian at Home by Kahikahealani Wight. Other series with this popular dual written and audio approach include the comprehensive Just Listen ‘n Learn courses, Conversational in Seven Days series, the iKnow series of audio flashcards for iPod or iPad or the Living Language In-Flight series to “learn before you land.” 

Portuguese: Dictionary Phrasebook

From Rough Guide

469.83421 Po

Pocket-sized language aids work well for on-demand reference phrases and words and are particularly helpful for colloquialisms such as the Rough Guide phrasebook for Mexican Spanish. Also look for The Thai-English, English-Thai Dictionary and Phrasebook by James Higbie, Perfect Phrases in French for Confident Travel by Elaine Kurbegov, South Pacific Phrasebook from Lonely Planet,the Oxford Essential Arabic Dictionary, or A Pocket Guide to the Hawaiian Language by Albert J. Schutz.

 • Carolyn Larson, head librarian at Lihu‘e Public Library, brings you the buzz on new, popular and good books available at your neighborhood library. Book annotations are culled from online publishers’ descriptions and published reviews.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.