Studying a language? Brushing up your French/German/Spanish/Italian for an overseas trip? Oxford Reference Online has bilingual dictionaries available for all of the above – and it’s free to use for library cardholders. (Also included are Irish, Welsh and Latin dictionaries.)
Languages don’t interest you? Oxford Reference Online also includes subject reference resources like science dictionaries, medical dictionaries, dictionaries of quotations, names and places, law, mythology, folklore, psychology – pretty much any kind of dictionary or companion guide you can imagine.
(I think my personal favourite in terms of resources I never expected to encounter, but am chuffed exist, would have to be the Dictionary of Opera Characters, closely followed by the Oxford Companion to the American Musical. Log in and check them out)
As a side note, here’s a selection of other language learning resources you might be interested in:
- At the library: Language kits – the library has these available to borrow in many different languages and they’re $3 to borrow for 4 weeks. We also hold foreign language novels for adults and picture books for children (here’s an example of the French language children’s ones – replace ‘French’ in the search box with your language of choice to search for these in another language), magazines, grammars, vocabularies, and of course dictionaries that you can borrow. Want something more visual? We have foreign language films with English subtitles you can borrow to brush up on your listening comprehension skills (these are $4 for 1 week). Try our languages subject guide for tips on searching for these on our online catalogue.
- Also via the library, but this time online: downloadable language learning audiobooks. Try a search on Overdrive Audio in our eLibrary for languages – you’ll be surprised how many language learning audiobooks come up. Easily transferred to your mp3 player of choice.
- PressReader – another database the library subscribes to that cardholders can access for free. PressDisplay gives you instant access to over 1700 newspapers from 92 countries in 48 languages. Want to read Le Monde in French while eating breakfast at home? Now you can – and it will appear on the screen laid out exactly like the print version.
- BBC Languages – this should be your first stop online. Free audio and video courses, quizzes, and all kinds of excellent resources.
- Yahoo News/Google News in different languages, e.g. here’s the German language Google News. Change the country code at the end, e.g. .nz for New Zealand, .de for Germany, .fr for France, to get the version you want. Similarly, reading Wikipedia articles in other languages can be a good test of your reading skills in that language as well, and if you know the subject matter of the article, you’re on familiar territory anyway – which can help! Here are all the different language Wikipedias.
- Browser extensions for language learning. There are a great deal of these for Firefox – have a browse and find one you’d like to try. (You’ll need to scroll down the page for a fuller list of popular language learning add-ons).
- iPhone apps. We found this article that lists 50 iPhone apps for learning languages, for all you lucky people who happen to have an iPhone. Flash cards!
- In-person resources in Wellington… For a small fee (not specified on their website), you can get a public membership to Victoria University’s Language Learning Centre at their Kelburn campus. Other paid courses are run at the Goethe Institut – for German, and the Alliance Française for French. And we’re sure there are more – maybe try a search on FeelingGreat.co.nz?
- Sometimes iffy, but often useful: Google Translate. Will give you a (very!) loose translation, and can be good if you need an idea of what a page in a language you don’t read is saying. Oh, and did you know there’s a Te Reo interface for the Google search engine.
- Hm, and the World Cinema Showcase is coming up too!