Living Columns & Blogs

From the Beacon: Database offers lesson in languages

You may not know it, but there is a nifty online resource available through the Beaufort County Library System. The Before You Know It (or BYKI) Database, available free with your library card and your pin number, will help you learn a foreign language by using practical verbal and visual techniques.

So what is BYKI? It's online language learning software provided by Transparent Language. It's available to all Beaufort County Library System cardholders through a paid subscription (but free for you). It's easy to get started. Call or visit your local library branch reference desk, provide your library card number and a reference librarian will create an online account for you. You can then access the database from your personal computer or while you're using one of our public library computers. (You can even access it from your Apple or Android mobile device.) That's it -- easy as pie. The interface is user-friendly and really fun.

BYKI offers about 90 different languages, including Arabic, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Hebrew, Greek, English for Spanish and English for Japanese. You can switch languages at any time. We recommend you watch the quick tutorial to give you an overview of all of the options available to enhance your learning experience.

BYKI uses a "flashcard" format to help users retain the information. BYKI's software states that using the flashcard format is, "the fastest possible way to lock foreign words and phrases in your long-term memory." As soon as you begin, you get first set of flashcards. The software pronounces and displays the word in the foreign language, and then displays the English equivalent below. You can choose to have the software repeat the word as many times as you'd like. You can even click the "turtle" button, which slows down the pronunciation so you can really commit it to memory.

BYKI is available as a free application on certain mobile devices, such as the iPad, iPhone, iTouch and Android-powered devices. It's a very nice app, and I look forward to using it. The website supplies an activation code that you will need to get started on the mobile app. It's a great way to learn a language while you're on the go.

Another software feature is the "Multiple Choice Recognize It" function. BYKI displays a foreign word and you select the correct answer from the multiple choice answers below. BYKI also has a dictation feature -- you listen to the foreign word and type what you think it is in English. The software provides many other features such as grammar lessons, tests, language histories and a "Word of the Day" that will send a new foreign word to your email account daily.

Times are challenging these days, and we're all trying to do more with less. The Beaufort County Library System is here to bring resources, like BYKI, free to you.