Knowing a second language fluently is a good career move. Who knows, it could win you a foreign posting or the very least help you start a small career on the side after retirement. Sites like Duolingo and Busuu make it easy to get rid of any excuses not to learn a new language. With the web as your language teacher, you don’t have to pay this tutor a dime.
Tina told us about some innovative ways to pick up a new foreign language. One of the more natural ways to learn anything is to immerse oneself in that environment. In fact, if you stay in a foreign country for any length of time, you naturally pick up some of the colloquialisms. Well, the best way to save yourself the price of a plane ticket is to use the browser to travel. Travel the web with Chrome and take the help of these Chrome foreign language extensions to learn a language while you are simply browsing.
If immersive learning was what I was talking about, then the Language Immersion for Chrome (LIC) is a fine example of how you can learn a new language by putting yourself in some sort of an artificial environment. LIC works by switching random English words in the websites you normally visit, to a language of your choice. LIC supports the 64 languages currently supported by Google Translate. We had earlier talked about the usefulness of Google Translate as a language learning tool. LIC is a fine extension which proves the concept. You can set your fluency level and the language to translate to. You can roll over the words and see its translation and the original word again. The details page of the Chrome foreign language extension also says that with a rollover you can hear the audio pronunciation, though this wasn’t working for me.
Perhaps, that’s why the developers say that this is an experiment and the results may not be accurate always. It is an interesting way to look at foreign words nonetheless and learn a little bit casually.
Flewent works very similarly to Language Immersion for Chrome by turning some words in an English webpage into the language of your choice. One of the differences is that in LIC you can set up three levels of fluency; with Flewent, you can specify a convert percentage. The convert percentage alludes to how much of the webpage you want to translate into the foreign language. You can click on the translated word and see the original word in English. The other significant difference is the automatic dictionary which lists all the words the extension translates on the English webpage. You can refer to it and also edit it if you find the translations somewhat off the mark. Flewent also seemed to be faster than LIC with its translations from English to the language of your choice and back again.
Do note that Flewent works only on webpages in English.
We have talked about spaced repetition and flashcards for language learning before. ReadLang is an interesting Chrome extension that takes the same approach. The How-To for the extension tells you to visit any webpage (preferably with a long article) in the language you are learning. Clicking on the ReadLang button loads and saves the article in ReadLang. You can move through the article and test yourself by clicking the foreign words and looking at their English translations. ReadLang gives you a flashcard feature that loads the words you tried to learn via the translations. You can review your learning and use spaced repetition to strengthen your language skills.
As the site says — It is for language learners who want to read in their target language and to translate the words and phrases they don’t understand.
Speed learning is one of those unobtrusive Chrome extensions tucked away in the far corners of the Web Store. It is a simple Chrome extension that enables you to save a new language’s words and associated sentences on Google Spreadsheet. When you see a sentence with the word, you can select and right-click the sentence and save the selected texts to Google Docs. You can focus on one word in the sentences and use the sentence structure to learn it in context. You will see a document with the file name of “SL_vocabulary” in your Google Drive.
What this does is help you create a reference sheet quickly while browsing the web. You can take this spreadsheet and print it out or send it to your mobile device for learning a new language on the go.
There are many ways to pick up words and learn a new language. It seems that even casual browsing can now help you get a feel of a foreign tongue if you put in the effort of installing any of these four Chrome foreign language extensions. Are you on the path of language learning? Tell us about your impressions about these extensions. Know of any other that I might have missed in the store?
Image Credit: Laptop and foreign language via Shutterstock