How are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? Maybe I should have chosen eating better or exercising more, but my resolution this year was to finish learning Spanish. I say finish, but really I just want to learn it. If you’re like me, you probably took some Spanish in high school. Maybe college, too. You memorized all the conjugations for the different verb forms, knew the difference between ser and estar (sort of), and you were beginning to hear familiar phrases in some Spanish you overheard around town. Then, you got on with your life and promptly forgot everything you learned. Or maybe you’ve never spoken a word of Spanish (or any other language besides English) in your life. Now what?
Enter Pronunciator, a new language learning software package available through the Denton Public Library. Late last year, I began experimenting with software like Mango Languages and Duolingo (two different online language learning platforms). They were okay, but my New Year’s resolution needed something new and fresh, something more in-depth, so I gave Pronunciator a try. I’m really glad I did.
The first thing I did was go to the Denton Public Library’s website (www.dentonlibrary.com). From there, I navigated to the online catalog and then selected the Research Tools link. That led me to a page where I could select a Language Learning link, which led to Pronunciator. It sounds like a lot of clicking, but once you get to this point, things get a lot more streamlined.
You can either choose an option called Instant Access or you can register as a user. I clicked on the Register link, which allowed me to download the amazing app that goes along with the software. Just enter your email address and create a password, and then you can download the app. A quick note: remember that your “Student Name” is actually your email address. That threw me for a minute.
Now to the actual software. You will find 80 different languages to choose from, including two different Spanish language learning options: Spanish (Spain) and Spanish (Latin America). I chose the Latin American option because, like the song says, I’ve never been to Spain. Once you get to the root menu for your chosen language, you’ll find a wide range of choices, including Postcards, Drills, Quizzes, Audio, Phrasebook, and ProRadio. Each section has different options, and lessons can be downloaded for offline use.
Like many other language learning software packages, Pronunciator scores you on how well you pronounce words and phrases. I never got higher than 47%, which is probably about right. The ProRadio function allows users to listen to popular Spanish songs in a variety of genres, bridging the gap between language and culture in a simple yet ingenious way. It might also be a great way to dance off those extra holiday pounds while learning some Spanish vocabulary.
Now to the best part: ProLive Conversation Classes. These classes are scheduled for certain times during the week and feature a living, breathing instructor you can interact with in real time. The classes are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and they are limited to five students each. Having participated in one of these classes, I have some advice. If you go through the app, you also have to have the Go to Meeting app downloaded on your device. When I tried to download it, I realized I didn’t have the latest iOS software for my iPhone, so I couldn’t download it in time for the class.
But guess what? No problem! I jumped on my computer, called a phone number, and I was video chatting online as the audio came through my telephone. It was so cool! You can also interact using a headset, but I did not have one handy. The class I attended included the instructor, myself, and three other students. We played vocabulary building games, talked with each other, and it was all in Spanish! I think there were about four or five English words that were used in the entire 30 minutes that I participated. It was a stress-free way to practice listening to and pronouncing Spanish. I was impressed by both the functionality of the software as well as the knowledge and demeanor of the instructor.
This is it. This is your year. Go for it. No matter what your New Year’s resolution may have been, try Pronunciator as soon as possible. Regardless of where you are in your language-learning journey, this is a great tool you can use from home. Plus, it’s free of charge with your Denton Public Library card. So unlike that new gym membership you got in January, it won’t hurt a bit or cost a thing. ¡Buena suerte!
Emily Fowler Central Library