"I speak English, and I want to learn French," Julie Senack, the head of information and reference services at the Atlantic City Free Public Library, said into her headset, sitting at her desktop computer.
Senack was not using Rosetta Stone - the popular language-learning software typically purchased before European vacations - but the library's newest language-learning system, Pronunciator.
With more than 60 of the world's languages offered, Senack hopes the latest online database will better assist the library's diverse customers who walk through its doors daily.
"We follow the latest census reports," she said. "I look at the statistics and the people who are coming to the desk, and I thought there was a need for another database. It doesn't replicate what the other two are doing, it adds to it. It's a nice complement."
For nearly seven years, the library has offered Mango and Transparent Language Online, both computer-based resources available for library guests seeking help with language skills.
Pronunciator specifically focuses on establishing conversational skills, and quickly. Speech recognition allows users to practice their pronunciation in real time, scored quizzes offer progress reports via email and a virtual coach is able to give life-like instruction.
"S'il vous plait," Senack repeated into the computer, a score appearing within seconds, rating her French pronunciation.
The computer programs have successfully served as a supplement to the library's free ESL courses, Senack said, which the library has offered for years.
Senack said that many of the library users rely on ESL courses, as well as the several computer courses offered, in order to better suit their job-application needs.
In 2012, 2,427 requests for job and email assistance were made, according to statistics provided by the library.
Senack explained that many library members whose native language is not English come to the United States with non-transferrable educational degrees.
Joan G. Hernandez, 24, moved from Puerto Rico to the U.S. about a year and a half ago and finds herself at the ACFPL as many as to three times per week, taking ESL classes. Just recently, she has made use of Pronunciator.
"It's good," the Atlantic City resident said of the program. "It's better for my pronunciation."
Hernandez received a degree in social work in her homeland, but is still looking to find work in New Jersey, she said.
Jose Bruno Tellez, of Atlantic City, also has made use of the library's 40-plus computers in order to practice his English-language skills. But, Tellez, 73, is not in need of employment, as a recent retiree. Tellez worked for 24 years as a food and beverage attendant at the Rams Head in Galloway Township, he said.
Originally of Santa Maria Xoxoteco, Mexico, Tellez considers his English skills to be "mediocre." As his schedule allowed for more leisure time, he began visiting the library for its ESL classes.
"I decided to do something with my free time," he said. "The English courses are free, so I decided to take them."
Although Tellez found Pronunciator to be slightly confusing, Senack imagines that the service will be successful, especially as the library members become more comfortable using computers.
"We feel good because we can sit down them and say everything you need is here and give them the computer to do it," she said.
Pronunciator is free for any guest of ACFPL and can be found on the ESL tab of its website. An app version is available on any outside Internet connection with a library card. To learn more about Pronunciator and the library's other resources, visit acfpl.org.
Contact Caitlin Honan: