Frequently Asked Questions

What is Living Language for Libraries?

Living Language for Libraries is a subscription-based language program for patrons of public libraries.
We include numerous resources to help patrons gain everyday conversation skills and cultural insight for the most popular world languages.

What is Living Language’s Teaching Method?

4-step-method
Languages are complex systems, but they can be broken down into simple components. The Living Language Method™ is based on linguistic science, proven techniques, and seventy years of experience.

Living Language’s proven learning techniques teach students more than just the basics, focusing on developing communication skills with a step-by-step approach—students progress from mastering single words to composing full sentences and constructing conversations. The Living Language Method™, based on language courses developed for the U.S. State Department’s overseas diplomats in 1946, uses a four-point method to provide learners with all the tools necessary to become fluent in a new language.

Can I sign up for a free trial?

Yes! Please fill out our Contact form and check off the appropriate box to note that you are interested in a free trial. Someone from our team will be in touch with you shortly to provide an access code.

I received a free library trial code. How do I access my Living Language trial?

Please go to: http://www.booksontape.com/living-language/trial/
Fill out the informational form and enter the free trial code you received. You will be redirected to the trial site where you can continue on as a guest to gain access to a sampling of our courses.

What languages are available?

Living Language courses are offered for: Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Dothraki (based on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones), Dutch, English (Inglés), Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, ESL for Arabic, ESL for Chinese, ESL for Japanese, ESL for Korean, ESL for Russian, and ESL for Spanish. We also offer Passport Courses designed for travelers (available in Croatian, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai), a Spanish on the Job series (available in Spanish for Librarians, Healthcare Workers and Law Enforcement) and a Business series (in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese). Coming soon are: American Sign Language, Business Japanese, Business Portuguese, Passport Hawaiian, Vietnamese, Arabic on the Job for Law Enforcement. Please fill out the Contact form for information on pricing.

Does Living Language offer ESL courses?

Yes—as noted in the complete language list above, there are currently six ESL courses available:
ESL for Arabic, ESL for Chinese, ESL for Japanese, ESL for Korean, ESL for Russian, and ESL for Spanish.

What does each language offered include?

Each language includes three levels of study (except for Dothraki, On the Job, Business, & Passport courses); each language teaches forty-six lessons overall with two grammar sections and two vocabulary sections per lesson. That means patrons have more than ninety unique grammar sections and over ninety unique vocabulary sections available to them per language.

What are Passport Courses?

The Passport series was developed with the traveler in mind. It is an interactive online course that teaches basic words and phrases for almost any travel situation. Each course in the Passport series features grammar explanations, culture notes, and audio content.

Do any Living Language courses offer reading and writing instruction?

Yes— reading and writing instruction is included for all languages that do not use the Roman alphabet:
Reading instruction is included for Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Korean, Greek, Hebrew, Russian, Hindi, and Farsi; separate guides for teaching script writing are provided for Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese.

How long does it take to learn a new language with Living Language?

Living Language is a self-paced program and each student builds fluency based on their own learning speed. Living Language will teach your patrons to express themselves naturally in a wide variety of situations. They won’t just memorize, they will build their language skills step-by-step, starting with words and phrases, and advancing to sentences and conversations.

What age range is appropriate for Living Language courses?

Our courses are most suitable for ages 14 & up. Note: there is no content in our courses that would be inappropriate for any age. Dedicated 10 to 13 year-olds would be fine using our courses, too.

Why is Living Language partnering with bibliotheca?

With a robust system in place to deliver technical products to libraries, we partnered with bibliotheca, allowing libraries to add Living Language to existing contracts. bibliotheca will ensure Living Language is integrated smoothly with your ILS* and will handle all billing and invoicing. Contact bibliotheca today with any specific questions on how to get started. Email info-us@bibliotheca.com.
*Integration with all major ILS vendors. Inquire about specific needs.

My library has access to Living Language. How can a patron set up an account?

Once patrons access Living Language through your library’s website/portal, they will be given the option of logging on with an existing Living Language account, creating an account, or accessing the courses as a Guest. Patrons are not required to set up an account with Living Language in order to access the online course. An account is required only to track progress between logins. If a patron is having trouble authenticating as a Library patron, they should contact the appropriate person at their library for help with their library card information.

Do patrons need to be online to access the course?

Yes, an Internet connection is required to access the courses.

What do I do if a patron has forgotten their log-in and password?

If a patron has already created an account, they can recover their Living Language password
at our forgotten password page.

Who should a patron contact if they have trouble accessing their account
or have technical questions about the course?

Encourage patrons to connect with Customer Service via livlanglibraries@penguinrandomhouse.com
or call 1-844-440-4414.

How many patrons can access Living Language at one time?

There is NO LIMIT to how many patrons can set up an account to use Living Language via a library’s portal.

What are the system requirements for the online course?

A desktop or laptop computer running the Windows or Mac operating system, a modern web browser (e.g. the latest version of Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Internet Explorer 11), and audio playback capability are required. A high-speed broadband Internet connection is recommended.

Is there mobile accessibility for learning-on-the-go?

Yes, our online courses can be accessed from any device. Simply login as you would from your desktop or laptop. We also offer Apps that contain the same content as the online courses; these run on iPad and iPhone but not Android devices and are included with any library’s Living Language digital program. Apps are offered for the following languages: Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Dothraki, English, ESL Spanish, ESL Japanese, ESL Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Gaelic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish.

Can patrons track their individual progress?

Yes! With Living Language online courses, patrons are able to track their individual progress in a few ways. Each time a patron logs in to a course, three measures of progress will be visible: % complete, the number of medals, and the number of stars earned for each level. Language learners can earn medals (bronze, silver, and gold) by performing well on games and will earn a star each time a lesson is completed.

What level of proficiency can patrons achieve after completing a Living Language online course?

While this depends on individual factors such as how much time a patron can devote to studying, previous knowledge of similar languages, or exposure to the language outside of the course, generally, upon completion of all of the course materials, it is possible to achieve a B2 level of proficiency on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which is considered an upper intermediate level.

What are librarians and patrons saying about Living Language?

“Cuyahoga County Public Library has enjoyed working with our partners at Penguin Random House to make Living Language available online. Our customers now have access to high quality content originally created for the State Department. Being a development partner was a natural fit for CCPL. For the last five years, we have provided passport application acceptance services at all of our branches which is a great opportunity to market Living Language to world travelers. This experience illustrates that when libraries and their partners work together we can achieve great things for our customers.”—Sari Feldman, Executive Director Cuyahoga County Public Library

“It was a pleasure being a development partner with Penguin Random House to make their Living Language content available to our customers. There was a great deal of collaboration between our teams. The focus was always on creating the best customer experience possible. The developers listened to our feedback to help make using the product as easy as possible. Our staff members who tested the product were impressed by the flashcards for learning vocabulary, the games at the end of each lesson which reinforce the lessons in a fun and engaging way, as well as the ease in navigating through the product. Since going live, customer and staff feedback have been very positive.”—Daniel Barden, Technical Services Director, Cuyahoga County Public Library

“Living Language is one of the best resources I have used for my daughter to learn Arabic. It’s very simple to use and instructions are clear to follow. The audio feature is very useful for a native English tongue to learn Arabic—it allows my daughter to hear how the word or sentence should be said so she can repeat it over and over until she is ready to move forward. It’s also an attractive learning style for children. Thanks for making learning other languages easy!”—Mohamed Ragheb, Cuyahoga library employee using Living Language to teach his daughter how to speak with their family in Egypt

“I knew a little Spanish, but wanted to brush up, as well as improve my skills. I like how you can start with basic, work your way to intermediate, and then move to advanced. And I specifically like the interface which is intuitive and very easy to use. I didn’t have any problems navigating the site. I also really liked how the advanced words and phrases are presented with the flashcards—it’s engaging and prods you to keep going.”—Carl Bogar, Cuyahoga library patron

Are Chinese courses in Mandarin Chinese or Cantonese?

The Living Language Chinese course is in Mandarin Chinese and uses simplified characters.

Are Spanish courses in Latin American Spanish or Castilian Spanish?

Our Spanish course teaches primarily Latin-American Spanish, but when there’s an important difference (the second person informal plural pronoun [vosotros/vosotras] and respective verb conjugations in Castilian Spanish, for example, or essential words such as “car”), we present both Latin-American Spanish and Castilian Spanish (“Spanish from Spain”). We also address the differences in pronunciation between the two.

Are Arabic courses in MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) or Classical Arabic?

Living Language Arabic teaches Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), or fuSHa (in the transliteration system we use.)

For all other questions and concerns, please contact: livlanglibraries@penguinrandomhouse.com