How long does it take to become fluent in a second language?

This post is courtesy of a Special Guest Blogger:

Americans are famous for not being fluent in a second language. This situation is captured in this classic joke:

What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual

What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual

What do you call someone who speaks one language? American

So how long does it take to acquire a second language?

The US Foreign Service Institute estimates basic fluency in the “easy” languages (examples:  French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili) should take 480 hours, and for “difficult” languages (examples: Greek, Hindi, Persian, Urdu, Amharic, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean,) 720 hours. Putting in ten hours of study and practice per day, this equates to two months for “easy” languages and four months for “difficult” languages.

How do you get started? Web sites such as DuoLingo can teach you 27 languages for free. Book stores, travel stores and libraries (including of course, Seattle Public Library) contain bi-lingual dictionaries and textbooks to teach new languages and audio courses in major and obscure languages. There are also DVDs of movies in these languages to help enjoyably improve your listening skills.

If you are super-human far beyond what the US Foreign Service Institute anticipates, you can always take advantage of books such as this one the Friends have come across, titled: “Do You Want to Know French in Ten Days?”

Thank you, Dear Guest Blogger. I wish I had known of this book in college!

Second Language v2 copy

Welcome to the club!

Another young reader has just joined the worldwide group of book lovers known as library card holders! Anika (age 4) just got her very first library card. Mom Andrea says she loves getting “fresh” books every couple of weeks. They visit the Northeast branch in Wedgwood.

Anika’s first books she checked out were “The Princess and the Pizza” and “Olivia Helps the Tooth Fairy” as you can see in this adorable photo. Enjoy your Friends of The Seattle Public Library tote bag, and welcome to the club!


Local Elections Impact The Seattle Public Library

The Seattle Channel covered a Mayoral Candidate Debate held at the Central Library on Oct 31. The decisions we Seattleites make in this election may impact such things as: what services The Library may be able to offer in the future, which branches are able to stay viable, how many days and hours a week the library is open. It’s important to know where the candidates stand.

Weren’t able to attend? Check out the video here.

Rare book donated to The Friends: “A Pali Primer”

Special thanks to Roger Atlas, Friends of The Seattle Public Library Board Trustee, for this blog post!

Seattle has a diverse population which reveals itself daily in the donations of foreign language books to the Friends of the Library. We are accustomed to books from about 40 major foreign languages that are received almost daily. However, today was a surprise donation in Burmese and Pali.

Pali is the language of ancient Buddhist scripts. Pali was in widespread use in south Asia, but Pali died out as a literary language in mainland India in the fourteenth century. Religious centers still kept the knowledge of the language and a revival began in the late 1800s. This was an important link to many ancient documents. Books began appearing which helped translate Pali into modern languages. Maung Tin published “A Pali Primer” in multiple languages including English. The Burmese version of the primer was reprinted in 1913 and then again in 1948.  The 1948 Pali Primer in Burmese was donated to the Friends of the Library last week.

Why is this book exciting? Three reasons come to mind. First, it is one of the very few books in Burmese or about Pali that we ever received. Second, preserving ancient languages is vital to understand the roots of the world’s culture. Imagine the impact if we were unable to understand ancient Greek or Latin, which are the languages of the source material for 2.2 billion Christians. Pali has a similar role for half a billion Buddhists. Third, as a work of art, Pali writing is simply beautiful. The cursive style is so distinctive because the writing was made with a sharp stick on large leaves. Straight lines would have destroyed the leaves. Curves did not. Pali Book Cover

L0026479 Burmese-Pali manuscript. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Oriental Manuscripts in Burmese-Pali.  Floral designs between lines in a Kammavaca text. Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

Pali Book Contents

L0026479 Burmese-Pali manuscript.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
Oriental Manuscripts in Burmese-Pali.
Floral designs between lines in a Kammavaca text.
Published: –
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0





If you like mysteries, this is the year to come to the Better Book Sale

We bid a fond farewell to our friends at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop. You may have seen that this unique independent book store in Pioneer Square had to close its doors at the end of September. It is a sad call to all of us to better support our small local businesses.

The Friends of The Seattle Public Library also owes our gratitude, as they donated many boxes of incredible books. This collection will be added to the rest of the stock for the one-day-only Better Book Sale on November 11.

Come out to support The Friends and join us in saying thank you to the Seattle Mystery Bookshop for its presence in our community. DSCN1244

Friends of the Year

At The Friends of The Seattle Public Library’s Annual Board meeting, two volunteers were honored as Friends of the Year. Thank you both, and congratulations! Here are their nominating statements:

Patricia Ann is a tireless worker for both the donation center and the Friendshop at the Central Library.  She works once a week at the donation center scanning and filing books and helping with all other duties as assigned.  She also voluntarily checks the stacks for books that are suitable for sale at the Friendshop and thus has helped to increase the sales of books at the shop because of her superb culling.

She is considered to be the “Book Lady” at the Friendshop and can answer any question about the books from customers.  She responds to inquiries ranging from: “where are the fiction/or nonfiction books?” to “what book would you recommend for my weekend reading?”  At the shop, she volunteers to work extra shifts at the Friendshop as needed, especially in a pinch.  She also drops in to the shop periodically to “make sure all the books are in order.”  She is an invaluable resource at both volunteer spots. IMG_1909

Jessica Torrez-Riley joined the FriendShop team September 2015 and has been an asset since she began.  From the beginning Jessica ran beyond her responsibilities as a volunteer who cashiers and assists customers.  She quickly became a representative and advocate for the Friends of The Seattle Public Library not only while in the FriendShop but on social media.  Jessica introduced our organization to Eventbrite and Facebook events which drew crowds to our sales both big and small.  She responded quickly to the crowds of the large book sale when the room hit capacity both in person and online by posting and responding on social media and by placing herself as the Friends’ representative alongside the officer who had to turn people away.  She acts quickly and responsibly and is a true Friend of the Year! IMG_1912


Annual Meeting

On the 1st of October, the Board of The Friends of The Seattle Public Library had a very meaningful meeting. We were fortunate to hear from Diane Gallegos, Executive Director of Wolf Haven International, and Annie Musselman, an award-winning wildlife photographer. Wolf Haven is between Olympia and Tenino, south of Seattle, and has at its mission sanctuary, education, and conservation.

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Annie received a grant to take photos for a non-profit and spent quite some time at Wolf Haven capturing beautiful images. The sanctuary currently has 65 animals, including 10 wolf dogs and 2 coyotes.

Author Brenda Peterson has written a book called “Wolf Haven: Sanctuary and the Future of Wolves in North America” that features Annie’s photos. While this book is difficult to find for purchase, you can find it at the Seattle Public Library!

One of the other highlights of our meeting was saying thank you to outgoing Board President Carmen Bendixen.

Steve Griggs, incoming Board Vice President, presented Carmen with a token of our appreciation, and she humbly received them before closing the meeting.

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The Huske Brothers are Darn Good Readers

Micah and LoganWe here at The Friends of The Seattle Public Library LOVE young readers! Steph Huske was kind enough to fill out the info sheet that comes in the Friends totes given to little ones when they obtain their first library card. This picture of Micah (age 9) and his brother Logan (age 6) picking up their first holds at the Southwest Branch is priceless!

We were so captivated by the photo we wanted to know more, so Steph helped us “interview” the boys. They are pretty serious about their reading, as they have ALREADY completed the summer reading challenge! “Micah says his favorite part about the summer reading challenge was reading new books from the library. Logan’s favorite part was trying to finish before Micah.”

The first book Micah checked out was “The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors” by Drew Daywalt. Logan adds, “There are lots of different kinds of books, they even have Angry Birds and Transformers and Pokemon!”

The best thing about having your own library card? Logan is excited that he can check out books he chooses with his own library card. Micah says the best thing is holding books under his name. Both boys are also super psyched about their cool user names! (Trust us, they are very cool, but we won’t publish them for privacy reasons).

Micah’s advice for young readers: “Never give up! If you don’t know the words, you can ask a parent or a guardian to help you.” Logan’s advice: “Go slowly and sound the letters out.”

If you haven’t finished your summer reading challenge yet, take a look at Micah and Logan’s suggestions and follow their advice above!