Learn a World Language With the Free Library

By Jamie B. RSS Tue, March 21, 2023

Did you know that studying a world language can improve your concentration and memory? That’s good news for Europe, where most countries have national-level requirements that students study languages in school. Unfortunately in comparison, Americans have a massive language learning gap. Over 231 million Americans "speak only English at home, and don't know another language well enough to communicate in it." In an interview with WBUR, Marty Abbott, executive director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, tells us, "If you don't have the language skills, you truly do not understand other cultures, and you're not able to fully engage with the rest of the world." If you want to be able to understand other cultures, boost your knowledge and respect for people across the world, and improve your brain, then you should study a world language with the Free Library. 

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Free Library’s Languages and Learning Center (LLC) is the best place to learn a new language in 2023. The LLC offers free virtual conversation groups in a variety of languages: Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, Japanese, French, and more! World language conversation groups are facilitated by a volunteer and groups meet weekly via zoom. Spring conversation group registration just opened and groups start the week of April 10, 2023.

If you are interested in joining in the conversation, please follow these steps:

  1. Check out our full list of LLC groups.
  2. Find the right group for you and sign up for the interest list.
  3. If you are selected for the group, LLC staff will contact you with the next steps.

In addition to group meet ups, the Free Library has a variety of great ways to study world languages for free:

  • Check out a book on learning Dutch, an audiobook CD on studying Arabic, or a kid’s DVD introduction to Mandarin.
  • Download the Mango Languages app and study Arabic, Ukrainian, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Mandarin, Korean, and over 70 more languages. 
  • Read an ebook or listen to an audiobook in Spanish, French, Russian, Mandarin, Arabic, or Vietnamese using OverDrive or the Libby app
  • Check out an unlimited number of digital magazines in over 20 languages, including Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish with Libby.

You’ll need a library card to check out items or download digital media.

If you have questions about joining a conversation group or world language study at the Free Library, please email the LLC at adultlearning@freelibrary.org or call 215-686-8664. To stay up-to-date on the latest information from the Languages and Learning Center, including resources for learning English, computer basics, studying for the GED exam, and jobseeker resources, sign up for our monthly email newsletter

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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I'm interested in accessing these resources.
Iva McLean - Racine
Thursday, March 23, 2023

Hi Iva - We're glad you're interested. Let us know if there's a specific resource you need help accessing.
Jamie Bowers - Free Library of Philadelphia
Friday, March 24, 2023

Intermediate French course
Cedric O. Montgomery - 1901 Vine Street Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, March 13, 2024