Students in the Peninsula School District determined to excel in class but concerned they will fall short, need not worry.
The Pierce County Library System offers in-library and online resources to help students master core academic standards, successfully write research papers, complete daily homework, and become fluent in a foreign language.
To start, all one needs is a library card.
Tamara Saarinen, youth librarian at the Gig Harbor branch, along with co-youth librarian Holly Smith, recently visited Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools where they presented Library Resources 101.
From Saarinen and Smith, students learned how to access homework resources and Pronunciator, a language-learning tool, within the e-sources database on the library’s homepage. Homework resources includes online homework help where students can access a live online tutor and digitized resources like biography in context, Britannica library, and opposing viewpoints in context.
“We always talk about (opposing viewpoints in context) because it touches on all the hot-button issues and gives reference sources like magazines, newspapers and access to academic journals,” Saarinen said. “Students are able to download the citation for their bibliography.”
Online homework help empowers students to submit research papers for review to live tutors. All that is required is a 48-hour window to allow time for tutors to edit.
Saarinen and Smith also shared with students how to spot fake news and identify reliable resources.
“We want to teach them information literacy and research skills,” Saarinen said. “It’s a good way (for the library) to connect with our community and promote learning.”
Nathan Waltz, a senior at Gig Harbor High School, has successfully leveraged the resources. With the help of Pronunciator, Waltz has improved his mastery of Mandarin Chinese.
“I’ve used the tool to complete my homework,” Waltz said. “It has helped me to learn more about tones and sentence structure. Chinese has four different tones: neutral, flat, downwards and upwards. Mandarin does both downwards and upwards.”
Waltz learned about Pronunciator from Saarinen while volunteering at the library.
“I wasn’t getting tones right, the class was moving really fast, and it was hard to keep up,” Waltz said. “Once I used the tool, my grades started improving. There are still challenges, but the tool really comes in handy doing the homework objectives. I understand the (sentence) structure better, and I can apply that to the homework assignment.”
Pronunciator provides self-guided courses for approximately 80 languages. Courses are tailored for early learners, young learners and adult learners. Languages are broken up into basic, intermediate and advanced levels. If one is traveling, an eight-week travel course can get them started for their trip.
Waltz said his career path is computer science. He is applying for entry into the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Knowing Mandarin Chinese may be useful in his future pursuits.
“It sounds clichéd, but knowing (Mandarin Chinese) has opened up a new world,” he said.
And Pronunciator, available at the Pierce County Library System, has made it all possible.