Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Search options

Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Tag: stuff to learn

Let’s ace Ace Week!

We’re now in the middle of Ace Week! Ace Week is an annual week to celebrate and highlight asexuality and all asexual-spectrum identities. So let’s celebrate all you Aces out there!

If you’re wondering what asexuality is, aces & aros has a pretty good introduction to asexuality and aromanticism. Awareness is important, and knowledge is a powerful thing!

Or if you’re after something more local… As part of their More Than Four campaign, InsideOUT created a series of videos that feature and explore the wide range of identities within our rainbow community. Check out their Asexual/Aromantic video below!

And since we’re a library, I couldn’t end this post without giving you some reading recommendations from our collection! Here are some books that feature asexual characters, or asexual authors!

Ace : what asexuality reveals about desire, society, and the meaning of sex / Chen, Angela
“Ace” delves into the lives of those who identify using the little-known sexual orientation of asexuality and shows what all of us can learn–about desire, identity, culture, and relationships–when we use an asexual lens to see the world”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

Rick / Gino, Alex
“Eleven-year-old Rick Ramsey has generally gone along with everybody, just not making waves, even though he is increasingly uncomfortable with his father’s jokes about girls, and his best friend’s explicit talk about sex; but now in middle school he discovers the Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities can express themselves–and maybe among them he can find new friends and discover his own identity, which may just be to opt out of sex altogether.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eAudiobook and eBook

Overdrive cover Asexual Fairy Tales / Hopkinson, Elizabeth (ebook)
“A refreshing collection of enchanting fairy tales that reflect the spectrum of human sexuality.” (Overdrive description)

Gender queer : a memoir / Kobabe, Maia
“In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity – what it means and how to think about it – for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.”–Amazon.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

 Elatsoe / Little Badger, Darcie
“Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream. There are some differences. This America has been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day. Seventeen-year-old Elatsoe (“Ellie” for short) lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect façade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family” — Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

Every heart a doorway / McGuire, Seanan
“Children have always disappeared from Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere … else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced … they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter. No matter the cost.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eAudiobook and eBook

Sit ‘n’ Knit: Coming Soon to Johnsonville Library!

Lockdown has been a great opportunity to learn some new skills, and get cracking on the projects that have been gathering dust on your shelf. And here to help we have a brand new sewing and craft group starting for you! Sit ‘n’ Knit will be meeting every other Sunday at Johnsonville Library (with the first meeting date to be announced very soon, once we are back in Level 1) and is for thread-heads of all skill levels and ages. We have some spectacular content coming out for you soon – keep an eye out for yarn bombing around the Waitohi Hub!

In the meantime, I’m here to whet your knitting appetite with some updates on what your faithful librarians have been working on during the lockdown.

Image shows a floral embroidery set in black fabric, resting on a piece of gray knitting, sitting on a bookshelf between several books.

It can’t get better than beautiful embroidery and good books!

Rylee is one of the amazing organizers of Sit ‘n’ Knit, and is leading the way with her embroidery and knitting skills. She’s been working on these beautiful embroidery flowers over lockdown, as well as putting together her first scarf!

Five crochet beanies, designed to look like Minions

Who wouldn’t want to go skiing in these adorable beanies?

These glorious minion creatures are brought to us by lovely librarian Claire, who has been working on this crochet project for an upcoming ski trip with her family. Although lockdown has shifted their plans a little, they can look forward to rocking a spectacular banana-loving look when they do go!


Image shows a hoop embroider, featuring a tree surrounded by small mushrooms on white calico

The end result was definitely worth the pricked fingers and momentary despair

The million and one French knots in this tree aside, I had a lovely time putting this little embroidery together. So much so that —like an absolute masochist— I’ve just started work on another knotty number, this time with more of a focus on the little ‘shrooms.

 

 

So gather your yarn and come along to Johnsonville Library once we’re back into Level 1 to get involved with free tutorials, challenges, and more incredible projects like these!

In the meantime, get started on your own creative endeavours with the help of the WCL catalogue:

Arm knitting : 30 no-needle projects for you and your home.
“Using chunky yarns and your arms instead of needles, Arm Knitting shows you how to create beautiful knits in no time at all. With 30 no-needle projects for you and your home, Arm Knitting is the ideal guide to this quick knitting technique. Try knitting projects including scarves, hats, curtains, rugs, and even a hammock to brighten up your home. Large patterns and no needles means that projects are easily completed in an hour or less, perfect for beginner knitters or busy lifestyles. With gorgeous step-by-step photography and detailed instructions covering all knitting materials, tools, and techniques, Arm Knitting is ideal for knitters of all abilities looking for projects that save on time but still look beautiful.” (Catalogue)

The knitter’s dictionary : knitting know-how from A to Z / Atherley, Kate
“Over the years knitting has produced its own language of technical terms, abbreviations, and familiar ways used in very particular ways. Atherley helps you learn to read instructions, and expand your knitting knowledge. In addition to the A-to-Z definitions, she addresses questions about gauge, tools, sweater construction, and much more that will help you become a better knitter.” — (Source of summary not specified)” (Catalogue)

Knitwit : 20 fun projects for beginners and seasoned knitters / Boyette, Katie
“Suitable for both children and adults, this title presents the 20 knit projects that are organised from beginning to end. It contains more than 150 full-colour photographs of these projects, showing along-the-way photos, important steps such as attaching arms and legs, and final photos of the completed piece.” (Catalogue)

Lockdown Cryptid-Spotting: A Librarian’s Guide

One of the few big perks of lockdown is getting to see our native fauna thriving and making their way back into our gardens. In fact, this is a great time to keep an eye out for some of the less well-known creatures creeping around our country…. That’s right, I’m talking CRYPTIDS.

For the uninitiated, a cryptid is an animal or entity whose existence hasn’t been conclusively proven. Think Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster (although I saw Nessie when I was 6, and that seems like solid evidence). Everyone has a favourite (or they will after reading this), but most of the biggies are off overseas. So what kind of cryptids can we be keeping an eye out for here in the backyards of Aotearoa?

Waitoreke

Also known as the New Zealand otter or kaurehe, the waitoreke is arguably Aotearoa’s most legitimate cryptid because nobody actually knows what it is (or if it exists at all)! Described as a otter-like creature the size of a cat, sightings of the Waitoreke date back more than 200 years, and some sources suggest that this amphibious good boy was kept as a pet by early Māori. If you’re stuck somewhere in the South Island, keep an eye out around your local waterways for glimpses of Aotearoa’s cutest cryptid.

The Fiordland Moose

In 1910, the Southland Acclimatisation Society introduced a handful of moose into Fiordland. As it turns out, these moose were very good at hiding and were largely forgotten about. The last proven sighting of the elusive moose was in 1952 but evidence has continued to sporadically surface, such as an entire moose antler that was discovered in the early 70s. I’ll admit it’s been a little while since anything conclusive was found, but maybe lockdown will be enough to encourage the Fiordland moose to find their way back into our lives.

The Goatman

Those of you familiar with Buzzfeed Unsolved’s search for the mysterious Goatman may have jumped at the familiar name, but the Goatman which lurks on lonely roads around New Zealand is a local specialty. One of many goat-ish cryptids from around the globe, our Goatman frequently manifests as a blokey hitchhiker, and many of the recorded sightings describe him approaching cars to ask for a lift on dark nights. Despite an ominous (and apparently smelly) demeanor, being approached by the Goatman is a good omen, as he is said to warn travellers of impending accidents and guide them through dangerous stretches of road. The real GOAT.

Mothman

One of the most infamous and beloved cryptids, Mothman technically lives out in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, but what better time for a cryptid to use up those Airpoints than when everyone is cosying up inside their homes? Mothman was first spotted in the 1960’s, and has been cropping up in urban folklore ever since. Described as a 6-8 foot moth-ish humanoid with red eyes and an impressive wingspan, Mothman has reached the highest echelons of cryptid fame by having an annual festival held in his honour, and ‘mothmania’ has inspired a truly magnificent following (including a Mothman anthem set to the tune of YMCA). So, keep your eyes keen and your lamps ready…. 

Mothman IMG_2215“Mothman IMG_2215” by OZinOH is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

So make the most of our quiet streets by keeping an eye out for some of Aotearoa’s more unusual fauna. Even if you’re just spotting some of our beautiful native birds then it’d be worth it. And who knows?

Maybe that tui only looks like a tui when you’re watching……

For more information, check out the WCL trove to prepare for any future cryptozoological adventures.

Cryptid creatures : a field guide / Halls, Kelly Milner
“Cryptozoology is the study of mysterious creatures that fall between the realm of real and imaginary on the scientific spectrum. Cryptid Creatures: A Field Guide offers a closer look at fifty of these amazing creatures, examining the best possible evidence for each, including scientific papers, magazine and newspaper articles, and credible eyewitness accounts. The fifty cryptids are arranged in order alphabetically, and in addition to speculative illustrations, include details like when they were first reported, whether they are terrestrial, aerial, or aquatic, and each have a reality rating of 1 to 6, in which 1 means that the cryptid has been confirmed as a hoax, and 6 means the cryptid has been proven as real. This page-turning guide will inspire curious readers to investigate more on their own, and maybe even help to prove if a cryptid is a hoax or is real.” (Catalogue)

Abominable science! : origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and other famous cryptids / Loxton, Daniel
“Loxton and Prothero complete an entertaining, educational, and definitive text on demonstrably false phenomena, presenting both the arguments for and against their existence and systematically challenging the pseudoscience perpetuating their myths.” (Catalogue)

Monsters : a bestiary of the bizarre / Dell, Christopher
“From myth to manga, an artistic visual history of the human mind through an imaginative collection of fantastical monsters from around the world.” (Catalogue)

Monstrous : the lore, gore, and science behind your favorite monsters / Beccia, Carlyn
“Carlyn Beccia presents werewolves, vampires, zombies and more as you’ve never seen them. Discover the origins of eight scream-worthy monsters, find out how major historical events shaped their creation, and delve into the science behind these fearful beasts. Engrossing (and gross!) timelines, maps, and infographics offer essential information — including the zombie virus life cycle and how to survive Godzilla’s nuclear breath.” (Catalogue)

Out On The Shelves: Rainbow Stories at Your Library

It is now officially the 2020 Out On The Shelves campaign week! All around the country, libraries, bookstores, schools and other organisations are putting on displays and events to celebrate LGBTQIA+ stories, and to help connect rainbow people to those stories and to each other.

Rejoice, for this year Campaign Week is not one week, but two, from 17 — 30 August. And there’s all kinds of things you can do! You can participate in the Rainbow Writing Competition — your writing could be featured in the Rainbow Zine, and you could be in to win some sweet book voucher prizes, courtesy of the Women’s Book Shop! You could head into one of our libraries, enjoy one of our Out On The Shelves displays, and pick yourself up some excellent reading material from our collection. If you’re more e-inclined, or not super keen on leaving the house, you could visit our LGBTQIA+ Reading Room on OverDrive, or learn about your rainbow history in the Archives of Sexuality and Gender, which WCL was the first public library in the world to provide full access to. Once you’ve done all that, don’t forget to tell us what you think of what you’ve read by writing a review and submitting it to the good folks at Out On The Shelves.

Keep an eye out for more Out On The Shelves content hitting this blog and your local library. Soon we’ll be posting some gorgeous photos of our libraries getting dressed up all fancy and colourful to celebrate Out On The Shelves along with you — sometimes our shelves can be quite bashful; not so during Campaign Week! For now, though, here are some of our favourite rainbow titles from our collections to whet your appetite:

Sometimes we tell the truth : a novel / Zarins, Kim
{reps: intersex}
{content warnings: sexual assault, ptsd}

Look, we’re suckers for contemporary re-imaginings of classic literature. Some might say it’s the reason we got into this business. So this re-telling of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is as fun as it is compelling and moving. It’s the kind of book that gets you to think about the stories we tell, not just to others, but even to ourselves, and the ways in which those stories themselves can sometimes assume the structure of a fiction. At the moment, we only hold this book in our vast Central collection at the Te Pātaka Collection Distribution Warehouse, so reserve it now to get sent to the branch of your choosing!

Every day / Levithan, David
{reps: non-binary}
{content warnings: violence, substance abuse, dysmorphia}

Surely every queer person remembers what it was like the first time they read a David Levithan novel. His works (including Two Boys Kissing, Boy Meets Boy, Will Grayson, Will Grayson) are now so central to the LGBTQIA+ canon that it’s hard to imagine the landscape of contemporary fiction without him. Every Day is one of his most interesting stories. You’ll meet A, a mysterious being that each day inhabits a new body, a new life. Every day they need to become accustomed to a new way of living, a new set of relationships, learning and re-learning over and over again how to be. A’s conception of their own gender identity, sexuality, and indeed personhood is mutable, changeable, flexible as it needs to be. Strong though they are, it is truly their inner voice that is most compelling and relatable as they play through all of the narratives of confusion, defiance, frustration, love, dysmorphia, terror, and acceptance that will be so familiar to so many in our rainbow community. Trust us, and give this a read — you won’t regret it.

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe / Sáenz, Benjamin Alire
{reps: gay}
{content warnings: discrimination, violence}

We know, we know, this isn’t the first time we’ve highlighted this gem of a novel on this very platform. We’re sorry, but we can’t help but trumpet the importance of this book every time we have the opportunity! Sáenz’s extremely spare, almost poetic, prose sets out in pointillistic detail the agony and anticipation of leaving childhood behind and moving on to somewhere new. At times surreal, but always searing straight through to the heart (yours, mine, the characters’), this story picks you up and never lets you go until what we would class as one of the most perfect endings to a YA novel in recent memory. Even then, it doesn’t truly let you go. Ever. He has a way of setting out the most expansive ideas in the most devastatingly simple of words. Read a segment below to get a sense of what we mean:

There was a tear running down his cheek. It seemed like a river in the light of the setting sun.

I wondered what it was like, to be the kind of guy that cried over the death of a bird.

I waved bye. He waved bye back.

As I walked home, I thought about birds and the meaning of their existence. Dante had an answer. I didn’t. I didn’t have any idea as to why birds existed. I’d never even asked myself the question.

Dante’s answer made sense to me. If we studied birds, maybe we could learn to be free. I think that’s what he was saying. I had a philosopher’s name. What was my answer? Why didn’t I have an answer?

And why was it that some guys had tears in them and some had no tears at all? Different boys lived by different rules.

When I got home, I sat on my front porch.

I watched the sun set.

— Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Simon and Schuster (2012).

All out: the no-longer-secret stories of queer teens throughout the ages / Mitchell, Saundra (ed.)
{reps: lesbian, trans*, asexual, gay}
content warnings: violence, discrimination}

This gorgeous collection of historical short stories is like the perfect fiction companion to Sarah Prager’s biography collection Queer, there, and everywhere: 23 people who changed the world. Oftentimes historical fiction containing LGBTQIA+ representations focusses on the difficulties of life for queer people ‘back in the day,’ or worse, just contains tokenistic references to queer people. This collection is not that. The stories, while they are mostly* accurate portrayals of their respective eras, feel more authentic, the depictions of the characters and their surroundings crystallised through the patented queer lens. The characters are without exception deftly sketched, their circumstances relatable, their relationships real, and their experiences — adventures, first loves, heartbreaks, self-discoveries — speak to a broad universality in queer experience while acknowledging the singularity of each individual’s lived reality. The stories collectively stand and say “Hey, we were here too! We were real, and we lived and loved and ate and cried and went to work and participated in history, just as everyone else did!” And that, friends, is exactly what good fiction should do.

New Simultaneous Collections on OverDrive!

We heard a rumour that you guys might quite like books. We also like books. So, we’ve created a new collection of always-available eBooks and audiobooks for you to enjoy any time, anywhere. Check out the Teen Book Club Reads section on OverDrive or Libby for the full list, but for now, here are some of our faves:

Overdrive cover Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan (ebook)
{LGBTQ+, romance, slice-of-life}
Two Boys Kissing is a cornerstone work of queer YA literature. Told from the perspectives of four boys “under the watchful eyes of a Greek chorus of a generation of men lost to AIDS,” this book explores questions of identity and emotion, and the often intimate connections between history and the personal. While you’re drying your eyes and restoring your breathing patterns to normal following this essential book, check out our LGBTQIA+ Fiction booklist for your next literary fix.

Overdrive cover Aspiring, Damien Wilkins (ebook)
{NZ author, small town, coming-of-age}
We’ve already talked about our enduring love for this book, which is a finalist in the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, on a previous post on this very blog. Trust us when we say that you will not regret immersing yourself in the unforgettably wry and observational voice of 15-year-old Ricky, crafted and shaped by Damien Wilkins’ bold and beguiling prose.

Overdrive cover Monster, Michael Grant (ebook)
{dystopian, science fiction, action}
From the author of the crazily popular Gone series comes this new trilogy, available for the first time on OverDrive as a Book Club read. In the aftermath of the Perdido Beach meteorite and the deadly wave of mutations that followed, Earth is once again being struck by meteorites bearing an even more deadly virus. This time, the whole world is exposed, and humans are beginning to change, again, some gaining unfathomable power. Sound like your kind of thing? We have the follow-ups Hero and Villain available for your delectation as well.

Overdrive cover You Can Do a Graphic Novel, Barbara Slate (ebook)
{non fiction, art, creative writing, comics}
If you’ve ever been interested in the art of creating graphic novels and comics, this nifty guide is meant for you! It starts at the start — with the story — and shows you the ropes as you move through the whole creative process, from drawing techniques and layout/structure tips, to how to deal with creative block and building strong and recognisable characters. Who knows, we may just see your work on our shelves in the zine collections at Arapaki, He Matapihi, and Newtown Libraries!

Overdrive cover Feminism, Nadia Abushanab Higgins (ebook)
{non fiction, feminism, social sciences, women}
This book is a concise and well-written introduction to the concepts and movements embodied by the word ‘feminism,’ which author Nadia Abushanab Higgins describes as “America’s new F-word.” Although it does have an undeniable focus on the history and contemporary definitions of feminism in the United States, it still provides a useful international perspective on the movement through really interesting profiles of pioneers including Gloria Steinem, Rebecca Walker, Elizabeth Stanton, and more. If you’re interested in the intersectionality between feminism and the Black Lives Matter and #GiveNothingToRacism movements, we have a great introduction for you here.

Five Days in the Life: A Review(ish) of MangoLanguages

Hello, B. Spinach here. Another week in lockdown Wellington is upon us and I’m really starting to feel sad that a Spanish language course I had signed up for, and is obviously not running, has been postponed. I was really pumped to meet new people and get my brain, mouth and thoughts around a whole new set of sounds to communicate with. So I have decided to do something about it with —drum roll please– one of Wellington City Libraries awesome resources: MangoLanguages!

You might be familiar with the app DuoLingo? It’s a goodie. The Italian and French courses that I did (only to a very basic level) were invaluable when I was travelling in Europe last year. So for that DuoLingo, Merci beaucoup! Well MangoLanguages is a little bit like that, but like all online language learning software it’s got its own particular format and way of doing things. It’s a really effective and well designed programme that offers 71 different language courses all of which you can access for free if you are a WCL card holder (it just takes your library card number and your PIN and you’re good to go my friend). I would like to point out that MangoLanguages is an American-run app and does not have a te reo Māori course or Pacific languages from our part of the world, so it won’t be the right tool to fulfill your reo needs.

I’ve gone for the introductory Spanish module. Firstly I am very mono-lingual so this is quite new and exciting. Secondly this post is only going to track five days and five lessons which is a WOEFULLY small sample size, but hey, hopefully it’s interesting for you to see what it’s like to dip your toes in this software and also useful for me to make sure that I stick to my plan.

To give you a feeling of what this looks like introductory Spanish is divided up into five main units, which are in turn divided into chapters inside of which there are lessons. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, don’t worry! For Spanish, the five units are: Introductions, Connections, Community, Lifestyle, and Ambition. For this blog I’m just doing the smallest sized chunk I can, because this seems sustainable, so I am doing a single lesson every day. I should mention also that there are additional units with tantalising titles like: Romance, Text Talk, Medical, Spanish for Librarians… I know we’re all drooling about that last one.


Day UNO

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty tired today and it has been hard to focus generally. Regardless I did a lesson and managed to to do the whole thing happily. I really like the format of these lessons. There is a timer feature for you to practice the words after first being introduced to them. This seemed stressful at first but even on a tired brain I managed to happily piece together the sentences with individual words I had learned. The timer kept a good pace, I like it.

“Hello, how are you today?”                                                                                                       “Hola, ¿cómo estás hoy?”

I will be interested to see how much sticks in my tired brain for tomorrow but is quite a testament to the lesson that it grabbed my attention easier than all the chirpy TV I have been struggling to focus on today. Buenas noches.


Day DOS

So I have more energy today, excellent. I have gone for a run, done some work, watched YouTube, played frisbee, written an email, cooked food…you know, general adult stuff… and now it’s time for Spanish. Though the energy is higher today the word I related to the most is cansado, which means tired. Hmm… maybe I do need sleep after all.

Some thoughts:                                                                                          – I’m really impressed with the sound quality (would recommend headphones).
– I’ve remembered a surprising amount since yesterday, cool.                                          – – The rate of repetition is excellent. Just when something is slipping out of your brain it comes back into circulation. Doesn’t feel like a chore, more like a game/ 10/10.


Day TRES 

Day three, whoop! A beautiful Wellington day. Today’s Spanish was good, it’s really fun getting my mouth around the Spanish words. It’s worth listening carefully to the demo, just to get the softness of the T’s and get just how the double L (ll) sounds, and other letters that are said differently in English.

P.S fun fact! Did you know that llamas…yes those cute giant furry animals…are actually meant to be said with a Y sound. So like Ya-maas, if you’re sounding it out. Cool right!


Day CUATRO

Took me four days to realise this but if you click on any of the Spanish terms a little box comes up with how you say this phonetically! Don’t wait four days to work this out, it is very helpful. Also I’m on to slightly more complicated sentences now and it is helpfully showing the literal vs. equivalent phrase when word orders vary between the languages.


Day CINCO

I made it. Mini celebration. A smooth run today, I’ve got into the swing of it and am really milking the review section to keep on top of words I learned earlier in the week.

Final fun fact: Days of the Week are not capitalised like they are in English. There you go, now you know a new thing too!


My conclusion

I really like MangoLanguages! I know, a surprise right? But no, in sincerity, being in lockdown has been a really strange time for me finding any kind of focus let alone learning something totally new, and even so I have really enjoyed MangoLanguages. It is going to become a proper habit, like brushing my teeth or drinking coffee every morning. Anyway, B. Spinach out. Hope lockdown is treating you all okay and you’re finding ways to be really nice to yourself and everyone in your bubble and the world outside.

What do you say?/Was sagst du?/He aha tō whakaaro?

You’re back at school now, you might be learning a language, you might not be learning a language, you might want to learn a language… Well! For any of you interested in starting, or brushing up on a language you started a while ago, or trying to launch yourself to the top of the class, we’ve got some tools to help you with that! And these online tools that we offer do not come with a threatening and eerie owl that accosts and harangues you until you meet your language goals (even though ominous owls are something I’m particularly interested in, it’s best to be safe in these circumstances).

Anyway. The two resources I’m writing about are LanguageNut and Mango Languages, which can be found on our language resources page. Both are free for you to use, all you have to do is plug in your library card number and your pin and you’re away.

Mango Languages has many languages for you to choose, from Greek (Ancient) to Greek (Modern), from Bengali to Yiddish, from Irish to Tamil, there’ll be something to interest you. You can even learn to talk like a pirate, or insult someone the way Shakespeare would have!

A screenshot taken from Unit 1, Chapter 1, Lesson 2 of the Pirate language course. The phrase in English is "Stop your messing around and quickly align the ship with the wind!". In Pirate the phrase is "Belay yer carousin' and haul wind smartly!" A screenshot taken from Unit 1, Chapter 1, Lesson 8 of the English (Shakespearean) language course. The phrase in English is "No, as they dare. I will give them the finger; which is an insult, if they take it.". In English (Shakespearean) the phrase is "Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace, if they bear it."

LanguageNut has fewer languages, but they’ve got a fun selection of games and activities to help you revise before you test yourself. And they’ve got a good selection of Pasifika languages, including Māori!

So what language will you choose? You could learn Spanish, German, Japanese, and Hebrew to catch up with Natalie Portman, or Greek, Spanish, and French to catch up with Tom Hiddleston. Seriously. Some friends of mine started teaching themselves German in high school because of a German pop rock band. And they still remember some of the language that they managed to teach themselves in that eight month period! What have you got to lose?

And we’d love to hear from you, in whatever language you’d like to use. Get in touch with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram and give us your best Shakespearean insult, your most carousin’ piratical expression, or just let us know what you’ve been up to during the lockdown!