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Language Resources in the Public Domain

There’s an old joke that says, “A person who can speak three languages is called tri-lingual; a person who can speak two languages is called bi-lingual; and a person who can speak one language is called American.”

How many languages can YOU speak? Or perhaps the better question is, how many languages would you LIKE to speak?

In the global society in which we live, languages barriers are crossed on a moment-by-moment basis with companies conducting business abroad and universities offering study-abroad options. But even the cultural fabric of America (and other countries) continues to be woven with an increasing variety of colors. While Americans would like to believe that everyone else in the world needs to speak English, the reality of our society reflects a much different image (and sound).

A while back, I wrote a brief report on how to research for Public Domain works that are published in other languages. In the report, I reveal a pretty clever strategy for using other languages in your search EVEN if you don’t know those languages. If you haven’t read that report and would like to, you can download it here: http://www.tonysyardsale.com/PD_Language.pdf It will definitely help you think about research and selling from a different perspective.

In this post, I want to share resources I’ve found in the Public Domain that will help you learn (or teach) other languages. Of course, you could also use the content to create your OWN language products to sell. I also want to share a research method for finding Public Domain language resources on Google Books (http://books.google.com). We’ll get to those a little later. First, let me share an example of how I used some of the language resources on a personal level. We homeschooled our daughters from 7th grade through graduation and finding quality teaching aids for the upper grades was sometimes challenging. My oldest daughter, Ashlea, wanted to learn a language but didn’t really have a desire to focus on the traditional languages (like Spanish, French, German, etc.). So she decided that the language she wanted to learn was Cherokee, which is a part of our family heritage. We had some trouble locating Cherokee language resources at first, but finally found several that worked perfectly, including a few from…you guessed it…the Public Domain. Ashlea took Cherokee as a language for two years and was the first homeschooled child in the National Homeschool Association to be awarded language credits for learning Cherokee.

I also know of several Native American tribes (such as the Nanticoke in New Jersey) who are using Public Domain language resources to reclaim and re-learn the tribal languages that have been nearly lost. In addition to these types of strategies for using language resources from the Public Domain, there are many other opportunities for products as well. My purpose in this post is to alert you to some of those opportunities as well as to provide you with some resources for a starting point.

Here are a few of the top websites that offer language resources from the Public Domain. As with all websites that offer Public Domain works, be sure to read copyright disclaimers to make sure that the resource you want to use is indeed in the Public Domain. As a rule, most of the content on these sites is in the Public Domain.

Word Gumbo
The site is primarily an archive of public domain and redistributable language learning resources. We are also developing special content for the site which will be of interest to language learners, travelers, linguists, and other language aficionados.
http://www.wordgumbo.com/index.htm

FSI Language Courses
FSI-language-courses.com is the home for language courses developed by the Foreign Service Institute. These courses were developed by the United States government and are in the public domain.
http://fsi-language-courses.com/

Free Language Courses
Language learning products for free download
http://www.freelanguagecourses.com/

Learn a New Language Now
A directory of websites related to languages studies.
http://www.learnanewlanguagenow.com/

Researching with Google Books
The fastest way to locate books on a specific topic on Google Books is by making use of Google’s research options, such as “subject” searches, “intitle” searches, etc. Here are a few examples of “Subject” searches:

Google Books
Indo-European Languages

http://books.google.com/books?as_brr=1&q=subject%3A%22Indo-European+languages%22&btnG=Search+Books

Google Books
Language and Languages

http://books.google.com/books?as_brr=1&q=subject%3A%22Language+and+languages%22&btnG=Search+Books

You’ll notice on the search line that the search “keyword” looks like this: subject:”Indo-European languages” Google has categorized many of its books by subject, which helps us find what we’re looking for much faster (thanks Google). If you are interested in finding content on a specific language, say Latin, your keyword search would look like this: subject:”Latin language”. Please notice that there are no spaces in the phrase except between “Latin” and “language.” That’s important!

You can also find language resources at Google books by using the “intitle” feature. This will limit results to those with the included keyword in the title. For instance, if you conduct a search using this keyword phrase… intitle:”language” …you will only return results that include the word “language” in the title.

Here is another cool little trick with Google Books: In addition to the English book search website, Google also offers book search sites in other languages. Here are a few examples:

The Spanish Book Search Site
http://libros.google.es/

The French Book Search Site
http://livres.google.fr/

Of course, to use these sites, you’ll need to enter the book title in THAT language (see my earlier report for a sneaky tactic for this), but I wanted to share this strategy with you so that you begin to understand the vastness of the Public Domain and the opportunities that exist there.

Please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with internet marketing and other languages. Thanks!

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