Language learners, there is more out there than just Rosetta Stone! And it can be much more accessible, with an unbeatable price. I'm talking about the newest library database acquisition: Byki. (We pronounce it bike-ee.) As a perpetual language learner, I have used most types of tools out there, and they all work, but Byki has it all, and it has it in more than sixty languages, not counting the dialects and the transliterated ones (that is, the ones that do the language study using the English alphabet instead of that language's usual alphabet).
First you need your JDL library card and pin number. If you don't know your pin number, ask at the checkout desk next time you are in the library. Then you need to set up a free account with Byki. Finally, you will need to select a language from the list in the pull down box in the upper right corner of the window. If you haven't used one of our databases before, feel free to stop in for some personalized help in setting up and accessing Byki. Also, there are free classes being offered on Byki and other JDL resources. Check the latest JDL newsletter for more information on them. (Note: Webinar available tomorrow! Register by calling 517-788-4087, ext. 260.)
Once you have selected a language, the window will reset with a window opening on top, asking you to select a list from the word lists. For instance, when I selected Hungarian, the lists included ten quick start lists, then alphabetical lists that covered topics such as adjectives & adverbs, asking directions/time, emergencies, family, school, shopping, and much more. When you go to the lists, you can view the words card by card, hitting the play button to listen to the word pronounced as often as you wish. There is a small, charming turtle icon which, when activated, slows the pronunciation down. Once a section is completed, it can be done over, or there are other options, such as the Own It section, in which the English word is provided and you are to type in the target language's word. In addition, there are activities such as matching the target word with the English equivalent.
As you progress through a list, there are two graphs and a bar which track your progress, telling you which item you are on, how far you have come, and what percent is completed. Other features include a section that tracks sections learned and whether those sections are fresh or stale. There is an overview that talks about particularities of each language such as its grammar and alphabet as well as words that are probably already familiar from that language. There is also a blog and a word of the day feature.
For languages which use a different writing system, such as Chinese or Arabic or Hindi, the unit also teaches the alphabet, although it does not show the pen strokes and their direction, which might cause problems for someone learning to write for the first time from right to left or vice versa. When entering words in languages using a different alphabet, a small keyboard comes up in the window, which shows the various letters or symbols needed.
Considered all together, Byki is a terrific resource from which one can learn almost everything needed for a new language--a wonderful addition to the fabulous resources the Library of Michigan provides for Michigan residents! Thank you, Library of Michigan and Jackson District Library!!!