Traveling this summer? Learn a language before you go…

For the past year Duke Libraries has subscribed to Byki, an online language-learning program free to all Duke faculty, students, and staff. With content on more than 70 languages available in Byki, this program has become a benefit for students already studying languages at Duke, as well as for students and faculty preparing to study or travel abroad.

Chelsea Wezensky, Trinity sophomore, uses Byki to brush up on both her Italian and Russian. Chelsea said “Byki is a fantastic resource in language learning. Whether you’re looking for nouns, verbs, adjectives, or phrases, it helps you memorize and learn them, step by step.”

Here are a few of the great things about Byki:

Multiple languages

Byki offers content for more than 70 languages from Afrikaans to Zulu. The program offers transliterated versions of many of the languages and more than 20 versions of English specifically for speakers of particular foreign languages.

Mobile learning

Material from Byki can be accessed via the Byki website, but there is also an iPad and iPhone app that allows for mobile learning while in the United States and abroad.

Listen and learn

Practice a new language in Byki by reading the blog posts, reviewing with flashcards, and additional activities that focus on recall, pronunciation, and diction. Aisha Harvey, Head of Collection Development at Perkins Library, liked that the Byki flashcards “come with an audio feature that allows me to hear the correct pronunciation of a word along with testing my memory.”


Byki is free to all Duke faculty, students, and staff. Sign up for an account and choose the language you would like to start learning. You can use Byki as much or as little you need without any cost.

Byki isn’t a substitute for language courses or extensive language study, but it is a great way to supplement formal language classes and a great way to review vocabulary.

Junior Maggie Spini used Byki to prepare for a study abroad program in Bologna, Italy. She said, “Byki helped me review and improve, and when I was thrown into the Italian language when I got to Bologna, I was glad I had taken the time to review with Byki. I think Byki’s format of repetition—one has to correctly answer a word several times to move on to the next level—for language acquisition is helpful.”

Byki can also help users who don’t have time to take formal courses learn useful phrases for traveling. Aisha Harvey used Byki regularly over the past few months to improve her vocabulary before her upcoming trips abroad. Aisha recommends Byki “to travelers who need a quick way to learn some useful phrases before they go abroad.”

In addition to Byki, check out Duke Libraries foreign language learning research guide for additional resources available online and at Duke. Take advantage of these free resources and get started improving your language skills today!