World Languages

Objective: Connect with quality resources to facilitate language acquisition in support of the World Languages Program

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Note: We have a separate guide available for English Language Learner‘s.


 General Language Resources


Linguistical Research

Dictionary of Languages (eBook via Credo Reference). Provides an essential reference to languages, people and nations.

Culturally Authentic Pictorial Lexicon
Visual perception is culturally determined and visual cognition varies from culture to culture. Use images for language learning in dozens of languages.

Forvo iconForvo
A pronunciation dictionary with over a million entries. The site’s goal is to collect pronunciations for every word in every language.



Study and Practice

World Language Video Collection (Streaming Videos via Films on Demand). 
To only see videos on a specific language, scroll down until you see “Narrow Results” on the right, then click the language of your choice.

BBC Languages
Lessons, videos, vocabulary, quizzes, links to TV and radio, and other activities. Japanese materials are more limited than the others.


Free online language learning website. Also has an app version.

COERLL (Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning)
A great collection of open (free) language learning resources from the University of Texas at Austin. Hover over “Materials,” then “Language Learning Materials” to browse by language.


Learn languages through a game format with vocabulary in context; gain levels and practice daily to keep progressing. Create a free account to save your status. Also has an app version. Does not include Chinese or Japanese.

International Children’s Digital Library

A large digital library of children’s eBooks in multiple languages. To find books in a language of your choice, click the “Read Books” button in the middle, then on the next screen select a language from the language dropdown menu.

Sign up for an account and you can set up free live conversation exchanges with other language learners. If you want to pay you can also get online lessons with an experienced teacher.
Audio and video lessons on over two dozen languages. Many of them include other materials as well. If you don’t want to sign up for an account, you can also access individual videos by searching for the name of the language you’re studying plus Pod101 on YouTube (i.e. “SpanishPod101”).

Free audiobooks in the public domain read by volunteers. This link will get you a list broken down by language.

Live Lingua Project
Free learning materials on over a hundred languages from the Foreign Service Institute, the Peace Corps, and the Defense Language Institute.

Get practice exercises and have real conversations with native speakers online.

Mango Languages (for public library users)
If you already have an account with the Bellingham Public Library or the Whatcom County Library System, you can access this language learning site. Also has an app version.

MIT LibGuide: Foreign Language News and Newspapers
Lists of links to foreign language news sources by Mark Szarko, Literature, Global Studies and Languages, and Theater Arts Librarian at MIT.


 American Sign Language

ASL encompasses a variety of North American sign dialects used natively by several hundred thousand people, and is officially recognized to some degree in at least 40 states as well as the Canadian province of Ontario.


Dictionaries and Reference

Book cover, decorativeThe American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary (via eBook Collection or DVD Stacks HV2475.T461 2007)

Grammar, Gesture, and Meaning in American Sign Language (via eBook Collection or print Stacks HV2474.L53 2003)

Gallaudet dictionary of American Sign Language (print and DVD Stacks HV2475.G35 2005)

Idioms & phrases in American Sign Language (DVD Stacks HV2474.I356 2008)

Talking with your hands, listening with your eyes: a complete photographic guide to ASL (print Stacks HV2474.G73 2003)

ASL University
A dictionary with pictures and some videos, as well as learning resources.

Video dictionary, phrases, fingerspelling, and ASL writing.

Signing Savvy
Video dictionary and other free resources. More available if you sign up for a free account.


Study and Practice

Easy Way Series: E-Z American Sign Language (via Credo Reference)

Advanced Sign Language Vocabulary (via eBook Collection)

Inside Deaf Culture (via eBook Collection)

Language From the Body: Iconicity and Metaphor in American Sign Language (via eBook Collection)

Picture Yourself book coverPicture Yourself Learning American Sign Language, Level 1 (via eBook Collection)

Reading Between the Signs: Intercultural Communication for Sign Language Interpreters (via eBook Collection)

American Sign Language: Greetings, The Alphabet, and More (via Films on Demand)

American Sign Language: Numbers, Money, and More (via Films on Demand)

Deaf American poetry: an anthology (print Stacks PS591.D4D43 2009)

The hidden treasure of Black ASL: its history and structure (print Stacks HV2545.H53 2011)

Introduction to American deaf culture (print Stacks HV2545.H65 2013)

Through deaf eyes: a photographic history of an American community (print Stacks HV2530.B39 2007)

Deaf Chat Coffee: Washington State Meetups
Find local meetups to practice your ASL with real people–the best way to learn any language.
A list of films either in ASL or containing significant amounts of ASL.

Handspeak: Culture
Cultural and historical information as well as Deaf art and literature.

Start ASL: Free Online Classes
Fingerspelling and three free units of ASL lessons.



Standard Chinese, or Mandarin, is a standardized variety of Chinese, which is spoken by nearly 1 billion people worldwide and is an official language in 3 countries.


Dictionaries and Reference

Chinese dict. book coverMcGraw-Hill’s Chinese dictionary and guide to 20,000 essential words (print Stacks PL1455.H7957 2010)

Chinese Grammar Wiki
A free collaborative grammar website with points from beginner level to advanced.

Learn Chinese Online: Grammar
More beginning through advanced grammar lessons.

LINE Dictionary Chinese-English
Enter words or draw characters. Includes example conversations and phrases. There’s also an app version.

MDBG English to Chinese Dictionary
Look up words using Pinyin or characters. Also includes a translation feature and some practice activities.
A dictionary plus a number of other activities. Dictionary has a feature for drawing characters with the mouse. Includes an app version.


Study and Practice

chinese proverbs Book Cover

Advanced Reader of Contemporary Chinese Short Stories: Reflections on Humanity (via eBook Collection)

Chinese Proverbs and Popular Sayings: With Observations on Culture and Language (via eBook Collection)

Documenting China: A Reader in Seminal Twentieth-century Texts (via eBook Collection)

China since 1949 (via World History in Context)

Chinese language in the library: Browse between PL1000 – 1999

Chinese literature in the library: Browse between PL2000 – 3299

Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin lessons in life, love, and language (print Stacks DS779.43.F36 2010)

Mandarin Companion Graded Readers (print Stacks PL1115)
The library owns the following titles in the Level 1 series: The country of the blind, The monkey’s paw, The secret garden, The sixty-year dream, and Sherlock Holmes and the case of the curly haired company. These readers are for beginning learners and are limited to 300 unique characters.

The Chairman’s Bao
“The first simplified Chinese newspaper, written for those who are learning Mandarin.”

Day Day Up Chinese
Lots of free elementary and intermediate online lessons including PDFs and audio of native speakers.

Learning Chinese: A Foundation Course in Mandarin
A free online textbook and course materials from MIT.

Zhongwen Green
Free lessons on basic vocabulary with example sentences.

Zhongwen Red
Free lessons organized by type of vocabulary and a nice list of links.



French is spoken by nearly 200 million people worldwide and is an official language in 29 countries.


Dictionaries and Reference

Pocket Business French Dictionary (via eBook Collection)

501 French verbs (print Stacks PC2271.K378 2007)

visual en-fr Book CoverBilingual visual dictionary: French English (print Stacks PC2640.B55 2005)

English grammar for students of French (print Stacks PC2099.M67 2009)

Larousse dictionnaire français-anglais, anglais-français (print Stacks at PC2640.L32 2010)

Oxford-Hachette French dictionary: French-English, English-French (print Reference PC2640.O83 2007)
Free online French definition dictionary, French-English dictionary, verb conjugator, basic encyclopedia in French, forums, games, recipes, and more.

Translation, dictionaries, verb conjugation, and grammar for multiple languages including French. Appears here because the site is in French.


Study and Practice

A Short Course in Reading French (via eBook Collection)

A Short History of French Literature (via eBook Collection)

France since 1945 (via World History in Context)

France-Amerique magazine coverFrance-Amérique magazine: Take advantage of the library’s print subscription to this bilingual magazine to practice your reading. Find it on the periodical shelving next to HNR 201A.

French language in the library: Browse between PC2000 – 3799

French literature in the library: Browse between PQ1 – 3999

French films in the library: Browse in PN1995.9.F78

French-Canadian films in the library: Browse in PN1995.9.C33

French graphic novels and comics: Browse in PN6747 (mixed with English-language materials)

1001 pitfalls in French (print Stacks PC2129.E5 G74 1986)

Better reading French (print Stacks PC2117.H485 2012)

Les expressions idiomatiques (print Stacks PC2689.C45 2008)

France 24
Read, watch, and listen to international news in French. Also has an app version.

Read, watch, and listen to French-Canadian news.



German is spoken by about 200 million people worldwide and is an official language in 6 countries.


Dictionaries and Reference

Book CoverA Usage Dictionary: English-German & German-English (via eBook Collection)

501 German verbs (print Stacks PF3271 .S855 2008)

Bilingual visual dictionary: German English (print Stacks PF3640.B458 2005)

Cassell’s German-English, English-German dictionary (print Stacks PF3640.B453 2002)

Conjugates verbs and displays noun inflections.

An online dictionary for German paired with multiple other languages.


Study and Practice

german language biography Book CoverGerman: Biography of a Language (via eBook Collection)

Neighbors and Neighborhoods: Living Together in the German-speaking World (via eBook Collection)

Topics, Questions, Keywords: A Handbook for Students of German (via eBook Collection)

Using German Synonyms (via eBook Collection)

Germany after Reunification (via World History in Context)

German language in the library: Browse between PF3001 – 5999

German literature in the library: Browse between PT1 – 4999

Projekt Gutenberg
A German portal to the Project Gutenberg website. Read free public domain eBooks in German.

Lesekorb: Geschichten für Kinder
German children’s stories.

Zeit Online
A German news website.



Japanese is spoken by about 125 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language.


Dictionaries and Reference

501 Japanese verbs (print Stacks PL585 .L3 2008)

Bilingual visual dictionary: Japanese English (print Stacks PL676.J365 2011)

The key to kanji: a visual history of 1100 characters (print Stacks PL519.W55 2010)

Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC
A free online Japanese dictionary. Search for words or for kanji.


Study and Practice

Japan, Historical Overview (via World History in Context)

Japanese language in the library: Browse between PL500 – 699

Japanese literature in the library: Browse between PL700 – 899

NHK World: English
Read and watch Japanese news. Content in both English and Japanese (click the Language menu button to change). Also has a fun “Learn Japanese” page.



Spanish is spoken by about 500 million people worldwide and is an official language in 21 countries.


Dictionaries and Reference

3,000 locuciones verbales y combinaciones frecuentes
(via eBook Collection)

Book CoverDiccionario de mexicanismos (via eBook Collection)

El español y su estructura (via eBook Collection)

New Guide to Phrasal Verbs: English to Spanish (via eBook Collection)

Pocket Business Spanish Dictionary (via eBook Collection)

501 Spanish verbs (print Stacks PC4271 .K38 2010)

Bilingual visual dictionary: Spanish English (print Stacks PC4640.B55 2005)

English grammar for students of Spanish (print Stacks PE1099.S65 2007)

The University of Chicago Spanish dictionary: Spanish-English, English-Spanish (print Stacks PC4640.U5 2003)

Book CoverVox compact Spanish and English dictionary (print Stacks PC4640.V67 2008)

Dictionary, translation, conjugation, flash cards, grammar, and more.

Spanish Grammar in Context
Detailed grammar explanations using authentic video examples.


Study and Practice

Book CoverGrammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain (via eBook Collection)

Spanish As an International Language: Implications for Teachers and Learners (via eBook Collection)

Varieties of Spanish in the United States (via eBook Collection)

US Hispanic Newsstream (via ProQuest US Newsstream)
Search for news articles in Spanish from several dozen news sources.

Spanish language in the library: Browse between PC4000 – 4999

Spanish literature in the library: Browse between PQ6000 – 8999

1001 pitfalls in Spanish (print Stacks PC4129.E5H65 1997)

Verb conjugation, vocabulary, and grammar practice, plus flash cards and other activities. Teachers can use quizzes for class or design their own.

A website dedicated to teaching Spanish through several entertaining video series.