Reach Out: 7 Ways Libraries Can Reach Patrons on Social Media

Posted on 16. Apr, 2014 by in Reference/Usage Tips, Trends

At Transparent Language, we know social media. We’ve grown our social following to over 3 million fans, and were among the top 1% viewed accounts on SlideShare for 2013. Growing our following has been easy, because we genuinely love and serve our language communities.

There’s another institution that loves and serves its community; libraries. We talk to librarians whenever we can, attending library conferences such as ALA and PLA, hosting webinars, reaching out on phone calls, and even visiting in-person when possible. But the subject of these conversations isn’t always our own product, Transparent Language Online for Libraries. A topic that comes up frequently is social media. Many librarians struggle to promote the many products and services that they offer to their patrons.

social-media-for-librariesSocial media should be a shoo-in for libraries. Many organizations struggle to provide valuable content to their followers, frequently reducing their social efforts to just another advertising channel. This happens because to these organizations, followers represent potential sales more than they do a community. That’s not a problem for libraries; they’re all about great free resources, events, and services for the community! And yet, we read articles about how social media is often not proving as fruitful an endeavor for libraries as one might expect.

So we decided to help, to share what’s worked for us, and to make recommendations about how libraries could implement the same strategies to make their social media efforts more effective. We did what any good social media marketers would do; we wrote an eBook.

Download Making Social Media Work for Your Library. It’s free, of course, and we hope it helps you leverage social media’s powers for good! If you have any feedback or suggestions, or notice something we didn’t cover that could make this guide better for you, please let us know. We’re in this together.

Small Talk is a Big Deal: Perceptions of Chit-chat Around the World

Posted on 14. Apr, 2014 by in Language Learning


Whether you’re meeting with a business partner or just trying to fit in with the locals on vacation, how you approach small talk is an immediate indicator of your cultural knowledge. The first few sentences you exchange may set the tone for the rest of your conversation or meeting, so it’s important to start out on the right foot.

In the United States, small talk is a big part of everyday life. Most conversations, even with friends, family members, and colleagues will start with some kind of pleasantry, ranging from “How was your day?” to “What’s up, man?” Even with strangers, we’re likely to strike up a conversation about something trivial, like the weather or sports. It’s such a natural part of our social interactions that we expect the same exchanges with just about anyone, right? But what about when we travel abroad?

If business or pleasure takes you to Scandinavia, you’re in for a shock. Scandinavians do not appreciate small talk the way Americans do, and it would be very rare to hear a conversation filled with social pleasantries. Most Swedes, Fins, and Norwegians have conversations to truly converse, not just to fill time or interrupt a silence. It’s not because they’re intrinsically rude, small talk is just not part of their culture. On the contrary, if someone asks you how you’re doing, they truly care to hear that answer.

Speaking of people who care, Brazilians are particularly fond of small talk and will strike up a conversation with just about anyone, anywhere. Soccer is always a safe topic for chatting with a Brazilian, but only if you actually know a thing or two about it. Starting with the fact that it’s called futebol down there (and basically everywhere that isn’t America).

Sports are a safe topic in most countries, including in Arab countries, where it is common to engage in a lot of small talk. Other popular topics include the newest tech gadgets and food. Russians are turned off by this seemingly superficial chatter. In Russia, they prefer “easy talk” to “small talk,” preferring to discuss an in-depth hot topic rather than the score of the game or the upcoming weather.

Their neighbors in China, however, thoroughly enjoy exchanging pleasantries. In the business world, first meetings among Chinese associates are rarely productive, and are considered more of an opportunity to meet one another and get comfortable. If you’re in search of a topic in one of these meetings, discuss one of your positive experiences in China, and you’ll be all set.

Small talk is appreciated throughout much of Asia, including in India, where it’s polite to ask about social matters, such as weekend or vacation plans. Beware that in India, you may be asked more personal questions than you’re used to fielding during small talk, but it’s only in an effort to establish trust.

Small talk is much less common, on the other hand, in Germany, where people prefer to get down to business. A bit further south in West Africa, though, it’s never about getting straight to work. Small talk is perfunctory in many of the cultures that make up this region. Asking a series of questions about one’s healthy, family, work, and so on is rituall, as are the practically scripted responses that would indicate that everything is just fine. As in America, West Africans find it polite to ask about one another’s lives, but not to spill out the nitty-gritty details.

Do you enjoy small talk? What have your experiences been with making small talk overseas?

CL-150 Language Courses and Technology Are Now Available Free to All US Government Employees in 120+ Languages

Posted on 09. Apr, 2014 by in Company News, Language Learning, Product Announcements

The United States is in critical need of greater language capability to better collaborate, compete, and contribute in today’s global environment. America is famously weak in foreign languages, but language proficiency is needed for international business, science, engineering, diplomacy, medicine, security cooperation, disaster relief and so many other activities and relationships.

For that reason, Transparent Language developed the CL-150 Technology Matrix for Critical Languages, an ever-growing suite of content and technology that supports language acquisition, sustainment, and assessment for both general proficiency and for specialized government purposes.JLU

We are excited to announce that the CL-150 is now available at no cost to all U.S. federal government and military personnel and programs via the Department of Defense’s Joint Language University. This expands CL-150 coverage from select military and intelligence communities to include all military and federal employees. Offering a broad and deep array of innovative and powerful resources in more than 120 languages, the CL-150 is accessible on mobile, web, and desktop platforms. Federal employees with a .gov or .mil e-mail address can access it on

Registered users of Joint Language University can access the CL-150 by clicking the Resources tab. A .mil or .gov email address, or government sponsorship, is needed to register. Unregistered visitors cannot access the CL-150 or other government-only resources.

Language skills broaden and enrich anyone’s life. Military spouses, family, or other community members are not authorized for CL-150 use, but many have access to Transparent Language Online through their local military base library.

More information at or .