Wikus, the main character in District 9, mainly speaks English in the movie,
though some Afrikaans slang can be heard throughout.

Ever since I discovered the South African rap-rave group, Die Antwoord and saw Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, I’ve wanted to learn Afrikaans. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few words from the rapid-fire mélange of Afrikaans and English that make up Die Antwoord’s songs, but it’s nowhere near enough to boast about having any language skills outside of English and the six years of Spanish I took in high school and college (of which I retained almost nothing). Before now, though, there hasn’t been a good way for me to tackle Afrikaans…

Over the summer, I had the privilege of vetting some new products for the library. One of them was a language learning program called Transparent Language. The minute I saw Afrikaans on the list, my interest was piqued. Besides the normal languages you’d expect to see in a language learning program, there was Finnish, Luxembourgish (who even knew that’s what it’s called?!), Maori, Ojibwe and Zulu!

Now, CPL has this product, and it’s totally free to use with a library card!

Did you know “groot” means “big” in Afrikaans? Or that “hávanxinn” means “tall” in Icelandic? Are you planning a Paris vacation and need to know how to ask for water at a restaurant? (“Puis-je avoir de l’eau?“) It’s the perfect time to start learning a romance language so you can whisper sweet nothings in your sweetheart’s ear this Valentine’s Day.

The really cool thing about Transparent Language is that it seems to really want you to learn a new language and feel confident about your new-found skills. Each course features activities and exercises that deal with a different part of language learning: reading, listening, speaking and writing:

If you’re planning a vacation or business trip and only want to learn key phrases, you can just focus on that:

As you learn, the program will track your progress so you know where you last left off:



You can even view statistics about which words you learned easily and which ones you gave you trouble:


There are tons of possibilities with Transparent Language. Check out the available languages by creating an account here. What language are you excited to learn?

Interested in the music and movie that got me into Afrikaans? Die Antwoord’s album Ten$ion is available from CPL, as is Neill Blomkamp’s District 9.

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