In 2011, things got a little brighter for the Jacksonville Public Library system in sunny Jacksonville, Florida: they subscribed to Transparent Language Online, providing their customers free language-learning resources in more than 80 languages.
Inspired by his friends’ New Year’s Resolutions to learn a new language, Eric Soriano, a member of the library’s e-services team, began developing classes for library customers: “Learn a New Language for the New Year”. The class was offered several times throughout 2014 as a way to introduce customers to Transparent Language Online, including a demo of the features, a guide to signing up for an account, and time to explore the online learning platform independently. Turnout was decent, but trailed off throughout the year.
To better leverage the resources in Transparent Language Online, Eric collaborated with fellow e-service specialists Kat Minor and Flory Martinez to create language-specific classes. In December 2014, Jacksonville Public Library launched a 3-part French course, and a similarly structured Spanish course kicked off in January. The reaction was so exceptional that the library actually added 5 additional laptops to their classrooms, which already seat 15 students. Even with the additional support, the library had to turn away some interested customers.
According to Eric, customers are thrilled with the classes, particularly that access to Transparent Language Online is free to anyone with a library card. “Our instructors also like the language learning approach of the product in integrating culture. So we made sure to make that a big part of class. They like the discussions on French cuisine, Spanish telenovelas and for the last class, we even did an interactive dance session using the steps of Merengue—a popular Latin American dance.”
They’re not stopping there. Believe it or not, Jacksonville is the largest city by area in the United States, so the branches of the Jacksonville Public Library have a lot of ground to cover, literally. To meet the needs and interests of such a large community, the library is expanding their language courses to new branches in new languages, including:
- March: French classes on Tuesday nights at West Regional Library
- April: Spanish classes on Thursday nights at Webb Wesconnett Library
- May: Tagalog classes at West Regional Library and a Mandarin class at Highlands Branch Library
If you’re in the Jacksonville area—lucky you! Be sure to stop by your local library branch and sign up for your free Transparent Language Online account. Not in Jacksonville? We partner with hundreds of libraries throughout the country, so give your friendly librarian a call and let them know you’re interested in a Transparent Language Online account!