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Davis, California

Monday, September 27, 2021

Yolo County Library provides language-learning service

Yolo County Library branches will now offer all patrons free access to Pronunciator, an online language-learning service which offers courses in 60 different languages.

According to a Yolo County press release, Pronunciator will be available from January 2013 until June 2014. In addition to the 60 different languages offered, Pronunciator also offers English as a second language (ESL) specific courses in 50 different languages.
“We had been hoping to subscribe to a language-learning database, but we didn’t have the funds for it,” said Crista Cannariato, a librarian at the Mary L. Stephens Branch Library in Davis.
The funding for the Yolo County Library to offer Pronunciator was due to a donation by Robert Savage in memory of his friend James Steichel, a Davis resident. Savage, a librarian and the creator of Pronunciator, designed Pronunciator specifically for library usage.

“People have responded enthusiastically to it,” Cannariato said. “We’ve had 27 registered users so far this week.”

Users can access Pronunciator from any computer via the internet and do not have to download anything. To register, people need only a Yolo County Library card, which can be obtained for free by any California resident with ID.

“We’re thrilled to be able to offer it,” said Joan Tuss, a librarian at the Mary L. Stephens Branch Library. “We have English language-learning groups who meet regularly who are excited about it, the International House [at UC Davis] is excited about it and it will be great for anyone who is taking an academic class in a language.”

Pronunciator is the world’s largest language-learning service, according to the official website. It distinguishes itself from other types of language-learning software due to its emphasis on reinforcement, conversational skills in realistic scenarios and quick, spontaneous thinking in the language being learned.
Skills are reinforced through online drills, online quizzes and offline audio lessons.
The online drills contain three different modes: playback mode, pronunciation mode and writing mode. In playback mode, the learner’s voice is recorded and played back to them alongside that of a native speaker. In pronunciation mode, the learner’s voice is scored by an algorithm and given a score based upon the accuracy of their pronunciation. In writing mode, the learner views an image and must write down what it is.
Pronunciator is an appropriate learning tool for language-learners of all ages, the press release said, with kid’s levels available for younger learners.

There are five levels of lessons available to serve a range of learners, from those who merely want to learn rudimentary skills for traveling to those who are seeking rapid language immersion.

According to the official Yolo County website, branches are located in Woodland, Clarksburg, Winters, Esparto, Knight’s Landing and in Davis at 315 E. 14th St. Anyone interested in Pronunciator or obtaining a Yolo County Library card can stop by any Yolo County Library branch for more information.

MEREDITH STURMER can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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