DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

Foreign Language

Mar 24 2016

Mommy and Me

by Hope L

MommyRecently the Workplace Advisory Group of the DeKalb County Public Library volunteered for a project to help the Mommy and Me Family Literacy Program located in Clarkston.  The DCPL volunteers will be fixing up a space in the school for mothers and their children to read and relax during their school day.

The Mommy and Me Refugee Family Literacy Program is a nonprofit school located in the heart of Clarkston where immigrant mothers and their children learn together.

When I found out about this program, I was delighted.  For a time I worked at the Clarkston Branch of DCPL, and it was (and is) a very busy place!  There were many immigrant children, most of them refugees whose families fled to this country from their homelands.

According to their website, the school’s students come from more than a dozen countries from around the world: Eritrea, Burma, Bhutan, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Burundi.

From the Mommy and Me website,

​We are a nonprofit school located in the heart of Clarkston, Georgia where immigrant mothers and children learn together.

A family literacy program, we offer four components of instruction: (1) ESOL classes for refugee women, (2) onsite early childhood development program for their young children, (3) Parent and Child Time sessions to promote family engagement, and (4) weekly workshops on parenting, health/nutrition, and life skills.

“Clarkston’s transformation dates back to the late 1980’s, when the U.S. State Department and various resettlement agencies chose Clarkston as an ideal site for refugee resettlement.  A mass exodus of middle-class whites to Atlanta’s more affluent suburbs left behind inexpensive apartments that could serve as affordable housing for newly arrived refugee families.  The easternmost stop on MARTA, Clarkston also offered its residence access to public transit and a commute to employment opportunities in Atlanta.”

To find out more about the program or to volunteer or make a donation, click on the link below:

Mommy and Me Family Literacy | about us




Lately I’ve become a bit of a Brazil-o-phile. I know very little about Brazilian culture except for what I’ve seen in movies, read in books or listened to on radio and in my music collection. All I know is that Black Orpheus is one of my favorite films,  and that I could listen to the music of Bebel Gilberto and Ceu for hours upon hours. And now that Rio de Janeiro has been appointed the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics, I’m clamoring for a trip to Cidade Maravilhoso and for more information about Brazil in general.

It should come as no surprise that the Library has a wealth of information on this incredibly fascinating country. Here are some of the things I’ve been checking out so far:

Portuguese For Dummies: I figured that in learning about another culture, a great place to start is by getting acquainted with the language. Portuguese, particularly of the Brazilian variety, is a lovely yet complex language. But Portuguese for Dummies is a great introduction to the language. For me, it helps to see Portuguese grammar and Brazilian colloquialisms and makes learning less intimidating. Seeing Portuguese in print helps me tremendously by reminding me of its similarities to other Romance languages.

Pimsleur Language Programs Portuguese (Brazilian): Right now I’m on course 1A and it’s a great way to begin tuning the ear to the language. Pimsleur’s also great for learning just about any other language you can imagine…and at your own pace.

Brazil: Nothing helps you plan a vacation quite like a guidebook. DCPL has travel books by Fodor’s, Frommer’s and Lonely Planet. The one that I’m perusing right now is a Moon Handbook which, like most guidebooks, offers helpful lodging, dining and entertainment hints. But I really like the fact that this particular book has a nice little survival phrasebook in back and fascinating cultural tidbits throughout.


Mar 19 2009

Know Your Accents

by Jimmy L

I’ve always liked accents.  Every day people speak the same language very differently to each other, reflecting their unique backgrounds.  When I found out that there are websites that track and study accents in an organized fashion, I was hooked.

The Speech Accent Archive has an archive of people from all over the world saying the same (rather ridiculous) sentence.  You can browse by language or by geographical region. Their website stresses “that accents are systematic rather than merely mistaken speech,” and it even provides a guide to show you the common characteristics of each accent.

International Dialects of English Archive (IDEA) is another similar website, which also accepts online submissions of samples.  These websites can be very useful for people as diverse as the ESL teacher trying to teach English to non-native speakers to actors who are trying to master a certain accent.

The last accent-related website I found is the Language Trainers Group’s Can You Guess Where My Accent is From? game.  It’s pretty fun.  See if you can beat it!


The Tucker-Reid H. Cofer branch is now hosting conversational Spanish meet-up groups. These groups are informal ways to practice speaking Spanish.  Two groups meet at the branch.  The first group meets on Mondays at 6:30 pm on selected dates; these dates are September 29, October 13, October 20, November 10 and November 17.  The second group meets on Wednesdays at 6:30 pm on selected dates; these dates are August 20, September 3, September 17 and October 1.   Registration is not required, and everyone is welcome.

The International Café Hour @ DCPL is another program that will help your conversational skills in three languages.  Visit to meet new people, share refreshments, and practice your conversational English, Spanish, or Chinese skills.  The International Café meets on the first Saturday of each month at the Chamblee branch from 11:00 AM until noon.

DCPL also offers several other ways to learn and practice your Spanish speaking skills.  As Ginny C posted earlier, the library has lots to help children learn a foreign language.  For adults or in-depth study, the library subscribes to the Tell Me More Database, which you can find under the Research Tab – Reference Databases on our website. There are audiobooks and eAudiobooks, such as the Pimsleur Language Program, available to check out with a library card. And, of course, the library has many books; here are a few to get you started:

{ 1 comment }

Jul 2 2008

Learning Languages for Children

by Ginny C

Are you looking for something to help your child learn a foreign language?  It’s widely reported that children learn new languages easier and faster than adults.  Most schools, however, don’t offer language classes until high school, though.  The library offers several useful tools designed specifically for children to learn a different language.

Bonjour There are a few DVDs that are popular with parents and kids, specifically Bonjour Les Amis and Hola Amigos which teach French and Spanish, respectively.  The Professor Toto dvd series, which comes in French, Spanish and German, teaches basic vocabulary and phrases.  If Chinese if the language you’re looking for, we also have Chinese for Kids and Early Start Mandarin Chinese.

Of course we also have picture dictionaries in the above languages, as well as Arabic and Polish.  For older children and teenagers, our LEA collection offers a wide range of languages and comes in audio and book format, as well as dvd.  We have many resources to help children (and adults) learn a new language.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, ask a librarian.  We’ll try to find something that’s just right for you or your child.


Statue_of_liberty_2 The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office has been working on an updated version of the Naturalization test. The new test puts emphasis on basic and important concepts of American democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. The test will help encourage applicants to learn and identify with basic American values. It is considered to be a more fair and meaningful test than the previous version. The new version was introduced to the public on September 27, 2007 and will take effect in October 2008. This gives applicants working toward citizenship time to prepare for the redesigned test.

Which Test Do You Take?

  • If you apply BEFORE October 1, 2008 AND you are scheduled for your naturalization interview BEFORE October 1, 2008, You will take the current test.
  • If you apply BEFORE October 1, 2008 AND you are scheduled for your naturalization interview AFTER October 1, 2008, You may choose to take the current test or the redesigned test.
  • If you apply AFTER October 1, 2008, You must take the redesigned test.
  • If you are scheduled for your naturalization interview AFTER October 1, 2009 , You must take the redesigned test.

How Can You Study for the Test?

DeKalb County Public Library (DCPL) will add new study materials when they become available. The Library plans to receive study materials in several languages. Until then, you may visit the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov. Click on the link for Education & Resources near the top right side of the page. Then click on Civics and Citizenship Study Materials on the upper left side of the page. You can print out flash cards, civics lessons, and sample test questions. If you need help finding study materials, or if you would like to find a citizenship class nearby, you may ask for help at any DCPL location or just visit our website.


I was driving to work a couple of weeks ago when I heard an episode of the StoryCorps series on NPR.  If you’ve ever heard a StoryCorps interview before, then you understand why I reach for the tissues as soon as they say it’s coming up.  This particular interview was no different, and the fact that it related to reading made it especially moving to me. 

This was the story of Joe Buford of Nashville, age 63, who is learning to read after decades of hiding the fact from family and coworkers.  He worried that he had passed “what was wrong” with him on to his children, and avoided promotions at work.  For the last year or so he has been working with literacy tutor Michelle Miller, and when he finally realized that he was beginning to be able to read, he “jumped up and ran through the house. It made me cry and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, it really is sinking in.'”  Listen to Joe’s story in his own words here.

DeKalb County Public Library offers many literacy materials to assist those looking to improve their reading skills, as well as materials for tutors helping others.  Visit any branch for more information, or check out our services on our website.

To find a literacy tutor or if you are interested in volunteering as a tutor, contact Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta, located conveniently across the street from the downtown Decatur Library.  They offer one-on-one volunteer tutoring as well as training for tutors.  LVA seeks to promote lifelong learning, and provides tutors for both adult literacy as well as ESL (English as second language).

{ 1 comment }

As many of us this past weekend and Monday embarked on our yearly celebration involving wearing a color we normally do not wear; we may have seen one of the many Irish shows on TV, went to a parade, went to a concert, or went to a pub. At some point during this time of year (when we are all Irish), we got to hear some music. As Irish music is near and dear to my heart, I thought I would post a little FAQ on the whole thing so next time you hear the music you can impress someone with saying “I really liked how the set began with a slide and ended with reels.”

Basically you can group Irish music into two main categories: music with singing and music without singing.

The most well known songs are pub tunes and ballads, many of which overlap or are both used in group performances. Pub tunes are moderate to fast-tempo, usually about having a good time or telling a tall tale of some sort, and often have crowd participation during the rollicking songs. Ballads are stories generally sung slowly and about sad topics such as love lost, death, war, troubles. Ballads have migrated from their sources on the British Isles over to America where we start to recognize them in bluegrass and country music. Both songs can be sung an Gaelige (in the Gaelic language), but generally the songs are in English so everyone can share in the craic (pronounced like crack and means having a good time). A very specific style of singing from Ireland is called Sean Nos (meaning “old style”), which is characterized by acapella singing often in Gaelic with difficult vocal ornamentation, breath control including glottal stops and glides, and melodic variation; sean nos also migrated to America where it influenced shape-note singing and the ‘high lonesome sound’ of old-time and bluegrass music (think “O, Brother Where Art Thou?“).

The instrumental music played by old and new bands, the stuff heard in any Irish movie, Riverdance, a certain scene in Titanic, and pretty much anything Irish has that music dancing around in the background is all considered traditional, trad, or folk music. These tunes were originally used for dancing at a ceili (big Irish dance party) or step-dancing (Riverdance style), so the songs tend to be played pretty fast and bouncy. The tunes can be divided into different types depending on time signatures (beats per measure), tempos, and rhythmic emphasis. The main types of tunes are reels, polkas, hornpipes, jigs, slides, and airs. When played, the highly ornamented melodies can be changed slightly depending on the musicians style so it sounds different when the same short 2/3 phrases are repeated to complete the tune. Tunes are usually played in sets of 3 or 4 of the same type (ie: 3 jigs or 4 polkas) but as with many aspects of playing this style of music, there are no hard and fast rules. Instruments used in the playing of Irish music are: fiddle, flute or whistle, Uilleann pipes, harp, accordion or concertina, banjo, bouzouki, mandolin, and percussion in the form of a bodhran (Irish goat skin frame drum) but other kinds of drums and spoons or bones (two pieces of wood that make clacking sounds) are also used. Like other styles of folk music, Irish traditional is an evolving style with lots of room for different interpretations but with a firm basis in the thousands of similar tunes passed down for hundreds of years.

Some musicians to get you started include: Planxty, Lunasa, Dervish, Gaelic Storm, Solas, Altan, Cherish the Ladies, and of course the Chieftains.

More info on the web?

Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann– The large global organization promoting Irish music and culture.

The Session– Clearinghouse of tunes, discussions of music, and lists of sessions worldwide.

–This will be my final post on DCPLive, and I thank everyone for reading my posts!


Feb 6 2008

Manga Mania Part 1

by Heather O

Manga: You’ve heard it, probably seen it, and almost every 10-25 year-old in the country can name several series and characters. The word “manga” refers to Japanese comic books and many serious fans (otaku) can argue that only comics drawn in Japan are actual manga, but the Japanese style is so mainstream and popular that it has become a global phenomena.

Manga style is different from Western comics in several ways: it is read from right to left, multiple episodes are bound into books instead of single episode pamphlets, characters are drawn with exaggerated emotions and actions to the point being cartoonish, some characters (especially girls and ‘good’ guys) are often drawn in a rounded style with largeManga5_2

round eyes and small round mouths, fewer words are used allowing fast action to move the plots forward, and manga is primarily drawn in black and white with a single or few
color inserts. Sometimes manga can be very “lost in translation”, you may wonder about some joke you don’t get or why all of the sudden the super-extreme close-up of the action seems to take more than one page. Characters can often be drawn so cute and so pretty that you have to read a little dialogue before you discover that the pretty girl is actually a boy, especially if they have long purple hair (manga is full of crazy hair). To add even more confusion, gender switching slapstick is almost as popular in manga as big robots.


Since manga is read by all ages and genders in Japan, there are different styles of manga appealing to everyone’s taste. Shonen manga for boys and teens, is usually action packed and funny. Shoujo (shojo) is aimed at girls and teens, so melodrama and romance are featured. For men and older teens, the seinen genre can contain more adult themes including violence, serious themes, and sexuality. Older teens  and women have the josei (redikomi) genre that has been compared to some of the paperback romance novels or even nighttime soap operas popular in the United States; these manga tend to have more realistic romantic situation or more adult themes. Finally, Kodomo is a genre aimed at younger kids.

Some Web Resources:

Great guide to all kinds of graphic novels including manga written by a librarian: No Flying, No Tights

Public Library of Brookline has a great FAQ for teens and parents interested in manga.

Wired magazine has a cool, interactive manga 101 site.

Manga for Parents

Next on Part 2: Now I know what it is, what should I read and what does the library have?

{ 1 comment }