Speak English clearly and confidently with Clear Pronunciation

Our newest online learning resource, Clear Pronunciation, helps you learn all the 43 sounds of English. Take a look at the sounds by themselves, in words, and in sentences – listen, practise, compare, and improve. Through audio and video clips, activities and assessments, you will listen to English speakers with a variety of accents in everyday situations and conversations.

There are two programmes to choose from, Clear Pronunciation 1, which introduces the 43 sounds, and Clear Pronunciation 2, which teaches you to put these sounds together.

Access Clear Pronunciation wherever and whenever you need it on your desktop or your mobile. To get started, find Clear Pronunciation 1 and 2 on our Languages page. Log in with your library card number and PIN and either create your own Clear Pronunciation account in order to track your progress or simply continue as a guest.

Take a look at the introductory video below. A preview of what is to come! Start learning with Clear Pronunciation to speak clearly with confidence.

Libby app is now available in 10 languages

It’s now possible to enjoy the award-winning eBook and audiobook app Libby with the following languages:

• Spanish                                     • Japanese                     • Swedish
• Simplified Chinese                 • Russian                       • Italian
• Traditional Chinese               • French                         • German

If you already use one of the languages above with your device, Libby will automatically browse, search and display account information in that language now. By changing the default language on your device within settings, you can then view Libby in your newly chosen language.

Account in Simplified Chinese
Browsing in Italian













You can also access Wellington City Libraries Libby website  with the language options above if you are already using your preferred language, or change to another language within your browser’s settings to access a new one.

At the same time, improvements have been made to Libby’s controls, playback speed and sleep timer within the eBook reader and audiobook player. Watch a brief tutorial on these new updates here.

Please contact our eLibrary team for any help here

Important note: To support this upgrade and enable future feature development in the app, Libby’s minimum Android operating system requirement will change from version 4.4+ (KitKat, released in 2013) to version 5.0+ (Lollipop, released in 2014). The iOS minimum requirement for Apple devices (iPhones and iPads) will remain unchanged at 9.0+.



Fun grammar guides for English

Former editor, Caroline Taggart, has written a series of books on punctuation, grammar, and spelling, that all contain her trademark humorous approach to the subject. Take a look at some of these books at the library.

Syndetics book coverThe Accidental Apostrophe: Colour and Discover [paperback]
“In Roman times, blocks of text were commonly written just as blocks without even wordspacingnevermindpunctuation to help the reader to interpret them. Bestselling author Caroline Taggart brings her usual gently humorous approach to punctuation, pointing out what really matters and what doesn’t; why using six exclamation marks where one will do is perfectly OK in a text but will lose you marks at school; why hang glider pilots in training really need a hyphen; and how throwing in the odd semicolon will impress your friends. Sometimes opinionated but never dogmatic, she is an ideal guide to the (perceived) minefield that is punctuation.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKicking the bucket at the drop of a hat : the meaning and origins of popular expressions / Caroline Taggart.
“A fascinating collection of the many unusual and vibrant phrases that adorn our language, looking at their origins and meanings. Don’t be down in the dumps if you can’t cut the mustard when asked the definition of certain phrases – this down-to-earth guide is just the ticket. From advertising to the Ancient Greeks, from the military to meteorology, Kicking the Bucket at the Drop of a Hat takes us on a wonderful journey through our language’s history. With more phrases than you can shake a stick at, this collection will bring home the bacon for any Tom, Dick or Harry with a love of language.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMisadventures in the English language / Caroline Taggart.
“This book looks at some of the controversial aspects of English usage–grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation–and tries to assess what matters and what doesn’t. Looking at why it pays to be precise in punctuation–the hackneyed examples of “Let’s eat Grandma” and “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” show how a comma can make all the difference–why tautologies are simply annoying; and how corporate speak can actually mean nothing at all; this book covers the aspects of the English language that could leave you with cause for concern. By turns an explanation of the rules, a rant against gobbledygook and other modern horrors, this book will aid you in avoiding embarrassing cliches and jargon, and help you put your words in the right places.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCollins little book of grammar secrets / Caroline Taggart.
“Let’s admit it, we all struggle with Grammar. There, they’re or their? Who’s or whose? Me or I? Fewer or less? Worry no more, Caroline is here to take the grind out of grammar in easy bite-sized chunks. With insights into hyphens and the dreaded apostrophe, comparatives and superlatives and whether England is singular or plural, she offers clear but light-hearted advice on getting things right when it matters – and relaxing just a little when it doesn’t.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover500 words you should know / Caroline Taggart.
“Ever wanted to ameliorate your atavistic lexicon, engage in a little intellectual badinage or been discombobulated by tricky diction? 500 Words You Should Know has you covered. This book will inspire the reader to use uncommon words in their correct context, utilize the English language to its full potential, and test themselves on the words they think they already know. This veracious cornucopia of knowledge will have you confabulating with the literary cognoscenti in no time.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAs right as rain : the meaning and origins of popular expressions / Caroline Taggart.
“Would you be down in the dumps if, when asked the definition of certain phrases, it was all Greek to you? Let’s not beat about the bush: the English language is littered with linguistic quirks, which, out of context, seem completely peculiar. If you can’t quite cut the mustard, this book will explain how on earth ‘off the cuff’ came to express improvisation, why a ‘gut feeling’ is more intuitive than a brainwave, and who the heck is ‘happy’ Larry. These expressions and countless more become a piece of cake once you’ve read As Right as Rain.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy grammar and I (or should that be ‘me’?) : old-school ways to sharpen your English / Caroline Taggart and J.A. Wines
My Grammar and I offers amusing examples of awful grammar, while steering you in the direction of grammatical greatness. Taking you on a tour of the English language through the minefield of rules and conditions that can catch you out, from dangling modifiers to split infinitives, it highlights the common pitfalls that every English language user faces on a day to day basis. Refreshing everything you should have learnt at school and more, My Grammar and I is informative yet entertaining.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Need a bilingual dictionary? Or any dictionary at all?

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:

  1. Q's course in Māori Spanish Language Builder Le chat chapeauté The Very Hungry Caterpillar ; translated into Chinese Arabic practical dictionary 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. BBC Languages – this should be your first stop online. Free audio and video courses, quizzes, and all kinds of excellent resources.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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!
  8. 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?
  9. 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.
  10. Hm, and the World Cinema Showcase is coming up too!