The process of learning a new language can either be a torturous and frustrating or fun and exciting experience. To study your target language, you can join a class or hire a one-on-one tutor. Both methods can and likely yield a productive learning experience for you. But both of these options, however, require investing of money.


Not everyone has the financial flexibility to pour sums of money in learning a language; hence, they need to explore other options. As such, getting a library card membership is a cost-effective and efficient option which will cost you next to nothing but your time, effort, and transportation to-and-from the library. Below, I’ll highlight the benefits of having a library card in relation to learning a language.



Access to a dedicated foreign language section


A library is a haven for bookworms (book lovers), largely thanks to the numerous book sections offering a plethora of knowledge on a variety of subjects -- including foreign languages. The foreign language section has a number of different materials to hone your learning experience.


By browsing this part of the library, you will soon position yourself to learn a wide range of aspects for your target language, from simple pronunciation to rich complex books about the linguistic origins of the language. You will almost certainly accelerate your learning progress and enhance retention of your target language by frequenting this part of the library.



Access to multimedia learning content


Most modern libraries also contain a multimedia section which contains pre-recorded audio and video lessons. Depending on the library, this is usually contained in storage disks which can only be opened by using special hardware (plus having a membership card to said library will enable you to access).


The multimedia content can supplement the books that you read to enrich the learning experience of your target language. This is because video and audio content will enable you to improve your pronunciation and listening skills by hearing native speakers and watching how they use the language in their native tongue.



Access to language courses in the library


Some libraries also provide dedicated language courses as part of their membership plan. This provides you with free access to expert tutors and resource materials, which is a valuable complement or alternative to dedicated foreign language classes. They also tend to come with a huge bonus in terms of the amount of material you can access. Granted, this isn’t a feature in every library, but seek it out by asking your fellow librarian if such an offering exists. It never hurts to ask.



Possibility of organizing group classes


Libraries provide a wonderful opportunity to network with fellow language learners. A library membership opens up the possibility of arranging group classes by bringing together like-minded people who are interested in the same foreign language. Such classes tap into the benefit of fostering connections and contacts afforded by visiting libraries.


This can often even help you hire a tutor at a much greater discount compared to joining a dedicated course. Of course, aside from group classes, italki can offer you the same benefit of learning your target language from native speakers online. That being said, a library provides an optimal environment for focused learning, hence also providing a higher concentration of focused learners.



Travel guides


Sometimes, learning a new language would be easier if we can relate or find connections to their culture. While it may not be feasible to visit your target language’s country while learning their language, there is nothing wrong with planning a future escapade.


To that effect, most libraries also include travel guides in their collection. These travel guide books present an abstract, basic feel for the language that you are learning; and as such, allow you to exercise your language skills in an imaginary native context. Travel guides make it easier for you to plan an authentic visit to the country of the language that you are learning in the near future.





Obtaining a library card can open up real opportunities for a prospective language learner. It is an excellent choice for those who are interested in learning a new language, due to the sheer amount of resource materials it avails to the learner.


Besides this, a library is simply a great learning institution that allows you to get a better grip and command of the target language you are trying to master. Your learning can also be accelerated through access to audio and video materials recorded in the actual native language, giving the learner a greater feel of what he or she is learning. Essentially, for anyone who is learning a foreign language, a library is a one-stop shop that’s equipped with what most would need to improve in both the written and spoken aspects of their target language.


Author’s biography: Dave M. is a college tutor teaching students how to write different types of essays. One of his publications is on how to write a common app essay.


Hero image by Michael D Beckwith (CC0 1.0)