How to turn Chrome into a language tutor

There are a lot of exercises you can do to learn a new language, such as listening to radio programs, reading, and watching TV in your chosen target language. But to get that done you have to make an effort to integrate those sessions into your daily life.

If you’re finding it hard to study, a Chrome app called Language Immersion for Chrome can help get you started or keep up practice on a language you already know.

All you have to do is give LI a target language and rate your level of knowledge from novice to fluent. Then the extension will slip words or phrases from the target language into the websites you visit every day. LI for Chrome uses Google Translate and is available for 64 of the languages Google’s Translate service offers.

Here’s how it works.

Download and install Language Immersion for Chrome. Once it’s installed, click the icon that appears to the right of the address bar. Then just choose your language, set your level of fluency, and you’re ready to go.

Now just visit a website and you’ll see words or phrases that are highlighted and translated into the target language. It’s your job to make sense of the translated portion to build your vocabulary. If you’re having a really tough time, just click on the translated words and they’ll revert back to English. Click again and they go back to your target language. The extension’s settings also have an option to hear any translated portions spoken using Google Translate.

LI also sets the Google Translate website to automatically translate words into your target language.

At the novice level only little bits of sentences are translated into the language you’re learning. It then increases the amount of translated portions as you manually bump up the difficulty level. Once you hit fluent, you’ll see full paragraphs in the second language.

If you ever want a break from LI for Chrome, just click the icon again and then hit the big Off button.

LI’s idea is somewhat weird since it’s a mish-mash of English and whatever language you’re studying, but it’s a novel way to get a little bit of practice into your day.

As for the translated bits of websites, they’re about what you’d expect from Google Translate. They’re not always perfect. The extension would sometimes translate gaming service Steam as vapeur in French, for example, and grammar and word endings for languages that depend on context can be a little wonky.

It’s not a language learning system by any means, but it’s a handy complement to any other studying you’re doing.

[via Gizmodo]


Ian Paul

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