Language Guides


Our language guides section is designed to provide introductions to major world languages for study abroad students.

Use and Users:

Every year, more and more students are choosing to study abroad, and many of them are studying in countries with a primary language other than  English. Summer sessions are becoming increasingly popular, and these session sessions, in addition to many other longer programs, often don’t have language requirements for students.  In these cases, students are expected to study the language of their chosen country independently prior to travelling abroad. This collection will provide the resources for them to do be able to do this.

Information Needs:

To evaluate user needs, we will examine study abroad data to determine which countries are being visited the most frequently, and then concentrate on providing language materials for the languages spoken in those countries. We will also examine the duration that students are staying in these countries, and the language pre-requisites required prior to leaving. This data will help us determine the level of language familiarity that these students already have, as well as providing us with a clearer understanding of what they hope to learn via our collection.

Because students learn in different ways, we will have to include multiple learning methods and formats.  In order to determine which formats and methods are needed most, we will send out a survey asking future study abroad students about their preferred learning methods and the skills they are hoping to develop (i.e  speaking, reading, writing, listening, survival language skills, slang, etc).  Additionally, we will look at studies and talk to language professors about how students learn languages independently. 

Once the collection is established, we will closely monitor usage statistics in order to evaluate which types of formats (software, audio, books, etc) are being used most frequently and which types are not being used. From these figures, we will have a better understanding of student needs, which will help us make weeding and new purchasing decisions.

Collection Development:


The collection will include beginner to intermediate language resources covering the languages spoken in countries where students study abroad. 

The physical collection will encompass a wide range of formats, including audio CDs, DVDs, computer software, dictionaries, textbooks, phrase books, grammar texts, etc.  In addition, our study abroad website will include a webography of helpful online resources for learning languages, including links to translation tools and online dictionaries.

The scope of materials provided for each language will depend upon the popularity and difficulty of the language. For example, our library would collect a greater number of materials for Spanish than it would for a language like Swahili.  Additionally, languages with complicated writing systems and unfamiliar grammar, such as Japanese, would have more writing and grammar resources than languages that have alphabets and grammar more similar to English, such as romance languages.   

Initially, multiple copies of resources will not be included within the Language Resources collection, although other areas of the library might have additional copies of our resources.  If additional copies of resources (especially audio and software) are required, we will look into digitizing these collections for online access. 

Maintenance and Weeding

As new resources become available, we will add them to the collection.  Most of the language resources will likely remain relevant since languages learning stays relatively stagnant.  However, we will be sure to weed out old software as new editions become available.

Evaluating Sources:

When determining which resources to include, we will choose based on demand, quality and consistency.  Because students will be likely to choose titles with name recognition, we will include popular series, like the “For Dummies” series and “Berlitz” phrase books, but we will also include well-known and well-reviewed series specific to studying language, such as Rosetta Stone (software) and the Pimsleur Method (audio).  Additionally, we will research reviews and interview professors to identify the best resources for specific languages, such as the Genki textbook series for Japanese.


Some resources, such as audio and software materials, are very expensive. They will have to be carefully monitored to ensure that they are returned, especially in cases where the textbooks include CDs.  If problems arise, a special check out system will have to be devised for using these materials.  Also, flashcards will not be included because it would be too difficult to keep them in good condition.

Search and Discovery:

Ideally, these resources will be found by visiting the physical collection.  Languages Resources will be grouped in a sub-section of the Study Abroad Resources section of the library.  This area will also have signage directing patrons to additional language resources for those requiring intermediate to advanced levels of study materials.

The collection can also be searched via the online catalog.  The Study Abroad Resources website will link to the catalog and promote the collection.

Sample Online Language Resources for Study Abroad Website:

Online Resources for Learning:

Translations Sites:

Online Dictionaries:

Free Online Lessons:

References and Useful Resources:

Use and Users/Information Needs:

Lewin, Tamar.  “Study Abroad Flourishes, With China a Hot Spot.” The New York Times.  November 17, 2008.

“Statistical Facts About Study Abroad.” University of Illinois.

“Study Abroad Statistics.” Vistawide: World Language and Cultures.

“Language Learning Methods.”

Collection Development:

Language Resource Centers:

Sample Collection Development Policy for Language Resources:          

Evaluations of Popular Language Resources:

Leffel, Tim. “Prelude to Immersion: Learning a Foreign Language at Home and on the Go.”  Transitions Abroad.

Crow, Nathan.  “Home Study Language Programs That Work.”  Transitions Abroad.

Review of audio methods:

Review of computer software methods:



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