If you've visited the Saline District Library website, you may have noticed the small Mango Languages logo. But do you know what happens when you click on it?
Because the library subscribes to the company's on-line language learning service, library users need only log in with their library card number to gain access to lessons in 18 languages, from Chinese to Farsi to Vietnamese.
"Our biggest market is the public library space," Jason Teshuba, CEO of the Farmington Hills-based company said. "We focused. We did all of our development to serve that market." As a result, Mango was recently named among the country's 5,000 fastest-growing companies on a list compiled by Inc. magazine.
Once a library system adopts the Mango Languages suite, it is available at no charge to all library patrons, Teshuba added.
More than vocabulary
Lessons include recordings of native language speakers, along with grammar and culture notes. A lesson in Japanese of an English speaker, for instance, starts by listening to a sentence, then learning each of the words in the sentence and recognizing the difference in sentence structure. Users learn at their own pace, with reinforcement that makes the lessons easier to remember.
"You learn not only about the language, but the ways and customs and thinking of the people who speak the language," Teshuba said.
That's the way he was first exposed to languages other than English. Teshuba said the love of languages is "kind of in my cells, in my bones". He grew up with Korean friends and remembers being fascinated by listening to the language their grandparents spoke. He studied Hebrew, and his father spoke that language, along with Arabic, Italian and English.
"We are unique in the fact that most Americans don't know another language, because we don't have to," Teshuba said. In Europe, traveling across country means moving through a number of different language regions. "If they spoke a different language in Illinois or Ohio, we'd all speak those languages."
He does see more interest among parents who want to enroll their children in a language course, and he encourages them to look at more than one course.
"Any second language helps to learn a third language, which helps you learn a fourth language," he said.
Learn more and try a demo lesson by logging in on the Saline District Library website. There's also a Mango Languages app for mobile phone users.