With the American population becoming ever diverse, many second language learners find themselves faced with the daunting task of identifying the right methods. For individuals whose primary language is English, it is often easy to pick up a second language through middle school, high school and beyond. Yet, those who travel to America to improve their lives often find it almost impossible to integrate into society, as resources are not as abundant to them as they are to native-born Americans. Gratefully, there are several options available; in this case, the local library. A membership at the local library will yield a world of opportunities for second language learners and English language learners (ELLs).
Language development tends to skyrocket at the age of 3 in many cultures, and peters out by the age of 18. While this is good news for children and young adults, those that hope to learn a second language beyond this tend to struggle for the most part. There is the factor of brain elasticity to consider, which is based on an individual level. Another factor that should be considered when addressing learning a second language is Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
The traditional concept of an IQ has begun to be seen as an outdated form of measuring intelligence. Gardner proposed that there are at least eight different types of intelligence and that any given individual could possess a mix of the eight. Most individuals have at least two dominant types of intelligence, such as Kinesthetic/Logical or Musical/Verbal. What this means is that everyone learns differently, depending on the particular type of intelligence they possess. With this in mind, individuals who are learning English language will require the wide array of resources that the local library will possess.
A Diversified Approach
English language learning will be able to benefit greatly from the library system, regardless of location or cultural background. As the resources available to most urban libraries are easy to exchange, the following would be readily available:
• Audio books
• Multilingual books (IE, English/Spanish)
• Language reference books (bilingual dictionaries, etc.)
• Resources to educational workshops
• Multimedia (DVDs, CDs, Internet)
Audio books, for example, will give English language learners the opportunity to not only hear the language, but will also gain exposure to a different culture. Conversational modes of speech are sometimes more difficult to learn, whereas proper grammar can be easier to learn. The greatest benefit of utilizing audio books in one’s journey to speak another language is that they will be exposed to common idioms, phrases and slang that may not be taught in a formal language course. Moreover, this particular method would sit well with those who learn best by listening to lectures or hearing instructions (Auditory Intelligence/Musical Intelligence).
Multilingual books also offer individuals the chance to read the language of choice, which enables the reader to sound out the language internally. Other methods that could be utilized are the group reading methods, which would require small groups. If a small group were set up, all that is needed would be a moderator to guide the reading, and conduct reading comprehension by asking questions as the group progresses. Alternatively, multilingual books could be read individually, such as the Bible/Santa Biblia. With the passages side-by-side, individuals are able to pick up on words easily by deduction.
Public libraries will also have resources and contact information for adult education courses as well as ELL courses hosted by the local school districts. Through adult education departments, individuals can take ESL/ELL courses as well as sign up for second language courses. Such courses are typically taught by language educators from area schools or professors who have free evenings. Courses range from Latin-based languages to American Sign Language and advanced coursework. This method would work well with those who are Interpersonal in intelligence, as such individuals learn through conversation and the exchange of ideas.
Lastly, the general multimedia collection of foreign films and musical selections are an asset to those who are looking to understand a different language through film/documentaries and Internet. With the Internet, in particular, individuals are able to access online materials made available through the library. It also should be noted that the library would have language programs in some capacity, which would be ideal for the younger generation of English language learners. This method may be uncomfortable for older ELLs and second language learners, as their generation did not mature with that level of technology as Generation X and Generation Y have.
In conclusion, with the right resources provided by the public library arena, it is speculated that most individuals will succeed on their journey to learn a second language. English language learners may have a bit of a struggle at first, but there is confidence that they too will succeed, in conjunction with local adult educational staff. In reflection of Gardner’s theory, it can be also surmised that all students will be able to find their learning strength and adapt their style to their quest.