Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

As the year wraps up, many of you might be planning exotic trips to Brussels, Paris, Stockholm, Lisbon, Paraguay, Beijing, or any major city in the United States where languages are as abundant as Uber and art museums.  To prepare you for your journey, don’t waste money on Rosetta Stone.  Use the Library’s online language learning tool, Pronunciator.

Pronunciator is available to all Arkansas Tech students, faculty, and staff.  You will need to create your own account at first using your ATU email address.

Login screen for Pronunciator database.

Once logged in, you have your choice between 80 non-English languages.  If you are a non-native English speaker, the service also provides ESL courses for speakers of 51 non-English languages including Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Japanese, Swedish and many more.

Learn at your own pace, or, for targeted objectives, through guided courses.  The guided courses range from early learners (3-6 years old), young learners (7-12 years old), 8-week travel prep, beginner courses, and even a healthcare course.  Choose the main guide to independently roam and explore the language through “postcards” where you can learn common expressions, cultural information, and more.

A boat in the Stockholm harbor, under a leaden sky.  The Swedish word for Please, "Snalla" perched on the mast.

Get the most out of Pronunciator using a microphone and headphones, which allow you the ability to practice speaking the language.  Pronunciator will play your recorded phrases back to you in comparison with the native speaker, provide drills to score how well you pronounce certain words and phrases, and offer assistance when you just can’t get the hang of it.

As you progress in each language, Pronunciator will let you review your overall progress and stats.  You can also take practice quizzes, review flashcards, and nail your rolling R’s with drills.

Not only can you learn a language structured in a learning course, Pronunciator doubles as handy phrasebook, giving you instant access to probably the most important phrase you’ll ever need to know:

The multitude of ways you can ask about Toilets in Swedish

Remember, there is also a Pronunciator App for mobile devices, capable of syncing to your existing account.  No matter where you are in the lesson, your phone or tablet can take your progress with you on the flight, train, ocean liner, or rickshaw.

Mobile app page with overly excited people stock photo.

Have a question about Pronunciator, the library, or where to find the best brunch in Stockholm?  Let us know at Ask-A-Librarian.  We’ll be open throughout the break, too, so stop in and grab a travel guide on the way to your next destination.  Hint: Search Find It for “Eyewitness Travel Guide.”

Have a great summer!

International Film Fest

From February 28th through March 16th, the Ross Pendergraft Library will be hosting the second annual International Film Festival.  For the next three weeks, join us every Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday, at 7:00 P.M. in RPL 300N to watch a critically acclaimed film from around the world.   Each film counts as an On Track event in the Global Focus area, and was sponsored by the English & World Languages Department and the Ross Pendergraft Library.  Who says world travel has to be expensive?  Take a trip and never leave campus with these exotic foreign language films:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Luther (2003, English)

During the early 16th Century idealistic German monk Martin Luther, disgusted by the materialism in the church, begins the dialogue that will lead to the Protestant Reformation.  Filmed in Germany and the U.S., this film is entirely in English—no subtitles necessary.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

El Orfanato / The Orphanage (2007, Spanish)

A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.  This thriller was filmed in Spain and includes English subtitles.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Les Intouchables / The Intouchables (2012, French)

In this comedic drama, a quadriplegic aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver, and ends up getting much more.  Nominated for a Golden Globe and BAFTA award in 2013, this critically acclaimed French film explores issues of class differences, disability, notions of family, and cultural divides.  The opening also includes arguably the best car chase scene ever filmed with a Maserati.  French with English subtitles

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Children of Heaven (1997, Persian)

After a boy loses his sister’s pair of shoes, he goes on a series of adventures in order to find them. When he can’t, he tries a new way to “win” a new pair.  Director Majid Majidi focuses on the details of everyday life to touch on universal themes of family, empathy, friendship, sibling loyalty, and childhood joy.  This film was originally filmed in Iran, and was the first Iranian film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.   In Persian with English subtitles.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dreams (1990, Japanese)

A collection of eight short tales based upon the actual dreams of legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.  Elements of the film include surrealistic images and stories about nuclear disasters, World War II, childhood memories, and demon-filled nightmares.  Watch for a younger Martin Scorsese portraying Vincent Van Gogh with George Lucas providing some of the visual effects.  In Japanese with English subtitles.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

English Vinglish (2012, English & Hindi)

Get your dose of Bollywood in this comedy about a quiet, sweet tempered housewife who endures small slights from her well-educated husband and daughter every day because of her inability to speak and understand English.  Featuring popular Indian actress Sridevi, this film marks her successful comeback to the world of Bollywood film.  In English and Hindi, with English subtitles.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

La Misma Luna / Under the Same Moon  (2007, Spanish)

A young Mexican boy travels to the U.S. to find his mother after his grandmother passes away, while his mother makes the same desperate attempt to reunite.  This heart-warming adventure story shows how love can break through any border and any wall.  Nominated for an Image Award in 2009.  In Spanish with English subtitles.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Babel (2006, 8 languages)

Tragedy strikes a married couple on vacation in the Moroccan desert, touching off an interlocking story involving four different families.  Starring Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt, Gael García Bernal & Elle Fanning, this drama features voices speaking in languages from all over the world–English, Japanese, Spanish, French, Russian, Berber, Arabic, and even Japanese sign language.  It won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, and received seven Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and two for Best Supporting Actress.  It also won the Academy Award for Best Original Score.

Remember, every film starts at 7:00 P.M. at the Ross Pendergraft Library, room 300 North.  While you cannot bring food, drinks are welcome with a lid.

Have more questions about the films?  Contactez vos bibliothécaires or comuníquese con sus bibliotecarios or contact your librarians at   If you like these films and want to see more, be sure to browse our vast DVD collection, featuring many French, Spanish, and other foreign language films using our DVD genre guide:

In the meantime, we’ll see you at the movies!

Film Festival Wrap-Up

The inaugural international film festival, held with the cooperative efforts of the Ross Pendergraft Library and the Department of English and World Languages, has drawn to a close. The eight films presented were chosen based on the four languages taught at Arkansas Tech University: Spanish, French, German, and Japanese. Here is a list of films in case you missed them. If these films have peaked your interest in seeing more movies in these languages—perhaps to sharpen your language-speaking skills, to watch more of a director’s movies, or to widen your cinematic viewing know-how—look no further than the RPL DVD selections. Located on the first floor of the library, the DVD collection has expanded in its popular viewing and international selections, and is available to check out to students, faculty, staff, and alumni (information on loan privileges for each patron is available here). Here are a few of my picks, in each language, of movies available in the library:


Germany gets a bad rap for being unfunny, but you may find yourself chuckling at a few of our selections, or caught up in the drama and intrigue of others. Many of the choices here relate to activism and anarchy brought about by Germany’s tumultuous times following World War II and the Cold War.

What to Do In Case of Fire? (Was tun, wenn’s brennt?): (2001) An old bomb in a building has just exploded, and six former anarchists have to scramble together to hide the evidence. Hilarity ensues as they get through this less-than-ideal reunion.

Good Bye, Lenin!: (2003) A young man’s mother goes in a coma during the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In an effort to keep her from suffering a fatal shock once she awakens, he goes to great lengths to make it seem as though nothing has changed. It’s a heartwarming mother-son flick, and one of my favorite films we viewed in a German Film seminar I took long ago.

Downfall (Der Untergang): (2004) A gripping drama capturing the final days of the Nazi regime, and one theory to Adolf Hitler’s demise. One particular scene was made infamous on YouTube as a gamer rant. Masterfully filmed, it is an uncommon perspective on World War II.

The Edukators: (2004) A combination of the anarchist film and German Heimatfilm (or nature film set in or near the Alps), The Edukators is like a German-language version of The Bling Ring, except the young people who star in the film are poor students who protest the rich. A young girl and her friends decide to kidnap a wealthy businessman after strapping her with a mountain of debt following a car wreck.



Remember watching old Don Bluth films like The Land Before Time, or any of his other whimsical but deceptively heartbreaking animated films, and having a good cry at the overbearing realness of mortality, brought to you with cutesy animal characters and songs? Luckily for you, esteemed Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miazaki and others in the Studio Ghibli universe know full well that the impact of powerful, emotional storytelling doesn’t have to exclude animated films. RPL has an extensive collection of Miazaki’s films, a boon for patrons as these movies are often costly or difficult to find. If animated feels are not your thing, we also have quite a collection of films by Akira Kurosawa, whose feature Yojimbo played at one of the movie nights. Kurosawa’s movies have been a major influence on several American films; for example, the western The Magnificent Seven was inspired by Seven Samurai:

Rashômon: (1950) Following the murder of a samurai, the story of his death is told from the perspective of a bandit, the samurai’s widow, and (through a medium) the victim himself. The film causes viewers to question everyone, as unreliable narrators are everywhere.

Ran(1985) Inspired by samurai legends and and resonant with Shakespeare’s King Lear, a Japanese warlord decides to retire from his position and divide his kingdom among his three sons. If you are familiar with the Shakespeare version, you know that this does not end well. The film is widely held to be a classic and one to see before you die. If you are a fan of long shots and epic battle scenes, look no further.

Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no haka): (1988) A young boy tries to survive in Japan with his sister in World War II. After the death of their mother, and unsure if their father will ever return from his duties as a soldier, they must endure starvation and other wartime horrors together, finding sole comfort in watching fireflies at night.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Kaguyahime no monogatari): (2013) Based on a Japanese folk tale, the film begins with a bamboo cutter who finds a tiny girl sleeping inside the plant. The beautiful and rebellious young girl, at first the size of a finger, will remind viewers of Thumbelina and other Disney princesses. The film journal Sight and Sound wrote a review of the film last year.



Many years ago I was introduced to the works of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar while channel surfing. I immediately fell in love with the scenery of the country and the complex relationships in which he peopled these stories. RPL has an extensive collection of these films:

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de “nervios”): (1988) Many of Almodóvar’s movies feature characters of various backgrounds whose love lives cause their paths to cross. In this case, a woman’s lover turns out to be the lover’s lover to another woman.

All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre): (1996) Following the death of her son, a woman travels to Barcelona to tell the father, who never knew about him.

Talk to Her (Hable con Ella): (2002) Two men are in love—one with a famous bullfighter and the other with a dancer—both of which are in a coma. The two men form a friendship, but their closeness is tested when one of them commits a terrible crime.

Bad Education (Mala educatión): (2004) The film centers on the lives of two boys who meet in a Catholic school, and their complicated emotional and sexual relationship in the span of 30 years.

Volver: (2006) Spanish for “to return,” a mother who had died years ago comes back to the land of the living to resolve unfinished business with her surviving family. The film stars Penelope Cruz, who appears in another Almodóvar film, Broken Embraces. 



French movies are more than just romantic, scenic frolics around the Eiffel Tower; in fact, French cinema is well known for its contribution to the horror genre. Here is a list of a few of my favorite titles:

Diabolique: (1955) From the Internet Movie Database (IMDB): “The wife of a cruel headmaster and his mistress conspire to kill him, but after the murder is committed, his body disappears, and strange events begin to plague the two women.” It is considered a classic horror masterpiece.

Delicatessen: (1991) A French horror film set in the future where a shopkeeper serves up people as meat. Not for the faint of heart and queasy of stomach.

Man Bites Dog (C’est arrivé prèz de chez vous): (1992) This intersting mockumentary begins with an interview with a local serial killer, who explains, “Usually, I start the month with a postman.” The title is translated to English as “It Happened in Your Neighborhood.” Set in black and white, it is a meta-film about three directors (starring the directors!) filming a serial killer, who wind up getting their hands dirty in the process.

High Tension (Haute Tension): (2003) An excellent selection if you like your horror with a little psychoanalysis and feminist resonance. Although not available at RPL, director Alexandre Aja helped write this fairly recent horror film that plays with point of view, which you should definitely add to your Netflix queue if you enjoy the classic slasher film style of 80’s and 90’s horror.


If this list of suggestions has further whet your appetite for more international titles, use our Find It… tool to search for more! The library’s film collection continues to grow, so keep an eye out for new titles.

8 Library Facts

If you are new to campus, it’s quite possible you haven’t had the chance to visit the Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center.  Here are 8 library facts you should know to help you make the most of the collections and services we offer at the Library.

1. We have all the things

Looking for books?  Sure, we’ve got books.  But did you also know we check out graphing calculators?  DVDs?  Audiobooks?  Headphones?  CDs?  Scanners?  Yes, we have all of those, too.  Search our catalog to find all of this and more.  If you just need a quiet place to study, print your paper, or book a study room, we offer that, too.All the things

2. Get started with Libguides

There are so many resource at the Library, it can be overwhelming to find the right resource for your topic.  Where do you start?  LibGuides can give you direction for finding books, articles, and search strategies for whatever assignment is thrown at you.  Compiled by librarians, each guide is tailored for a specific subject, and in some cases, a specific course.


 3. Learn anything with online tutorials

Whether you want to brush up on your Spanish or learn Microsoft Excel, the Library can help you further your education from the comfort of your own dorm room.

  • Mango Languages feature online tutorials for learning 63 languages, including Japanese, English as a second language, and Pirate.
  • If you are more interested in learning software, create an account with the Virtual Training Center (VTC).  As a student (or faculty/staff), you have free access to over 98,000 video tutorials on programming, databases, web design, or basic computer courses through the VTC.
  • For help using library resources, check out our own Library Tutorials page, featuring videos on using Dewey Decimal, online library resources, interlibrary loan, and other services.
Keanu Reeve's face

(Kung Fu tutorials not yet available)

4. Credo Reference is your new best friend

Think of Wikipedia.  Now imagine if it was a reputable, scholarly resource which could connect you to articles, books, and other academic resources about your specific topic.  That’s Credo Reference.  Comprised of hundreds of encyclopedias and dictionaries, it can mean one-stop shopping for many research assignments.  We love it so much, we put it on our homepage.


5. We give away fabulous prizes on social media

Last year, we gave away books, buttons, and even a Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.   We also gave away free information about our hours, events, and new additions to the library.  Like us & follow us.  We might even be giving away something right now…

6. We’re constantly acquiring new stuff

The Library continues to add new books, DVDs, and other materials as the semester progresses.  You can keep up new items by clicking the Open Your Mind logo on the top right corner of our homepage.  That will take you to a list of recently purchased books, movies, and music.

If you are in the library and would like to browse just the new books, we also have a new books section in the lobby, near the south entrance.


7. Can’t find it?  Library A-Z it

We have a new way to navigate every library resource we offer—the Library A-Z page.    The Library A-Z list provides direct links to library maps, electronic tools, policies, collections, contact information, and anything else that we can provide through our website.


8. Home of the ultimate know-it-alls

Despite their godlike powers, the librarians at RPL are highly approachable, friendly, and helpful.  No question is too mundane or too complex for them to lend their expertise and attention.  Give them a call (toll-free) at 855-761-0006 or email them at  Drop by the Reference Desk for on the spot questions.  Remember, you cannot yet contact them through intense mental concentration, but keep checking our website for additional services we may provide in the future.



Avast ye mateys!

September 19th is National Talk Like A Pirate Day, and to celebrate, we’re highlighting our new language learning tool Mango Languages to help you brush up on your Pirate speech.

Mango features five chapters on Pirate, including cultural notes, Pirate grammar, and conversational Pirate–as spoken (presumably) by real pirates.


First time users to Mango Languages will have to create a login username and password to use the system, as well as to save progress through the courses.  After that, it’s smooth sailing.


Mango Languages offer 60 other language course in addition to Pirate such as Spanish, French, Latin, Chinese, and Arabic.  So once you become fluent in Pirate, you can try your hand at other languages.

If you want additional practice in conversational Pirate, see our selection of Pirate movies available on DVD from the Music Lab on the second floor:

For more Pirate-culture materials, check with the land-lubber librarians over at the Reference desk or send a message via parrot or email to