If you thought the Half Price Bookstores made buying language CD’s affordable, it gets even better. I have just discovered a program that lets you “borrow” language and other CDs from your local library for free. In Chicago, all you need is your library card, and you can download 8 titles every 21 days. Yesterday I tested the system by downloading Instant Immersion Arabic (Jordanian/Palestinian dialect) and VocabuLearn French Word Booster.
First, check to see if the service is available in your part of the world. Next, download the Overdrive software. Then you can either play it on your computer, transfer it to a device (like an MP3 player) with a simple right-click and “transfer” command, or in some cases burn a disk from it. Most portable devices support MP3 and WMA format; if in doubt, you can check a list of supported devices. At the Chicago library, after 21 days, the audio file is automatically “returned” to the library without you having to do anything.
The system is available from libraries in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey, and the U.K. For example, the Melbourne library (Australians are such great travelers–I love to see what they read) has the In-Flight language learning titles in several languages, lasting an hour each, also a couple of Learn in your Car titles, as well as some from the Instant Immersion series. The Melbourne library allows you only two titles checked out at the same time, but you can select the desired lending period for a particular title.
How do I like it so far? Fun. Easy to use. The Arabic one isn’t as good as other Instant Immersion products, but it’s hard to find anything at all for colloquial Levantine Arabic. I have seen Instant Immersion workbooks; it would be nice to see the written language too if there is a companion book, but they don’t seem to have one for Arabic. Also, the next time I download something, since there is a limit to the number of downloads, I will probably do more research beforehand with the Amazon ratings and be pickier about what I download.