Summer will soon be here and international travel is always more interesting if you have an idea of what you want to see and can communicate a bit with the people of the country you are visiting. 

For example, when my spouse and I took a cruise to the major islands in Greece, having a good guide book made each port of call more interesting, and knowing a bit of the language helped us when our luggage arrived late, a taxi driver tried to overcharge us, when we wanted to buy groceries, and even got us lower prices a few times when we visited souvenir shops. 

Your Alameda County Libraries offer you travel books, travel DVDs, and books, CDs, and DVDs for learning foreign languages.  For travel books and DVDs, you only need for look for call numbers beginning with 914 for European countries, 915 for Asian countries, 916 for African countries, 917 for North American countries, and 918 for South American countries. 

Resources for language learning that are available to you at any time if you have a computer at home and a library card are: 

BBC Languages – Free online language learning from the British Broadcasting Company. Languages include Spanish, French, German, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Chinese and more.

Livemocha – Livemocha is a language learning community with over 2 million members. Designed for all language goals and skill levels, Livemocha offers free and plus learning options that actually work – and make learning languages social and fun!

Mango Languages – is an online language-learning system teaching actual conversation skills for a wide variety of languages. Mango also includes complete learning English courses for speakers of Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, and Polish, as well as basic English for social situations for speakers of  languages such as Japanese, Arabic, Russian and French.  Free registration for a separate Mango account is not required but will allow you to keep track of your progress and use other tools. 

Some items that caught my own attention are:

Barcelona & Catalonia / by Dana Facaros, Michael Pauls

Northhampton, MA : Cadogan Guides, 2010       914.6704 FACAROS

Country driving : a journey through China from farm to factory / by Peter Hessler

New York : Harper, c2010             303.4832 HESSLER

Japanese language learning DVD game / TOPICS Entertainment, Incl ; Euro Talk Interactive 

Renton, WA : TOPICS Entertainment, c2008     DVD 495.68342 JAPANESE

Italian language learning DVD game [videorecording] / TOPICS Entertainment, Inc. ; Euro Talk Interactive

Renton, WA : TOPICS Entertainment, c2008                       DVD 458.3421 ITALIAN