By Angie Georgeff

If people who live in the Aloha state can claim “Lucky you live in Hawaii,” we who live here can declare that we’re “Luckier to live in Unicoi County.” I can say so, because I’ve lived in both places. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t like to travel. I am not alone. I know Unicoi County residents who are traveling to Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, the Middle East and South America this spring.

While English is widely spoken around the world as a lingua franca, it is always a good idea to learn a little of the native tongue when you’re traveling to another country. I have discovered that their English is likely to be better than your Spanish or German, but they will appreciate the effort you made to learn a few essential phrases. Those simple words will be a mark of respect for citizens of that country and a security blanket for you. In addition, being able to read a menu will help you order a meal that you’ll actually want to eat. Trust me: “Stroganoff” made with pork and liver is not very good!

This is why I’m so excited about a new resource coming to TEL, the Tennessee Electronic Library, on April 1. I studied Spanish in high school and German and a little Russian in college, but that still leaves a lot of languages with which I am completely unfamiliar. Transparent Language Online offers online lessons in more than 100 languages and dialects for English speakers, and lessons in English for speakers of more than 25 other languages. The list starts with Afrikaans and goes all the way to Zulu by way of Estonian, Icelandic, Mongolian and Quechua. If I’d had access to this program before I went to the Czech Republic, I might have avoided that stroganoff!

Along with grammar topics, alphabet lessons help lay the foundation for learning Greek, Russian, Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic and other languages that don’t use the Latin alphabet. And speaking of Latin, it is one of the available languages, along with Esperanto. The choice is up to you. Whether you would like to learn a language for school, work, travel or intellectual stimulation, Transparent Language Online can help.  What do you want to learn?

Kids & Teens Fundraiser

Pizza Hut is hosting a fundraiser to benefit our programs for kids and teens on Thursday, March 8, from 5-8 p.m. They will donate 20 percent of all dine-in purchases made during those hours to support youth activities such as story times and our annual Summer Reading Programs for children and teens. Please join us for dinner and be sure to mention the library when you check out so we get credit. Members of our teen group will be there to help serve you.