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The Web is the new language tutor you should pay attention to. In most cases, it does not charge a dime. You only need to charge yourself up so you can supplement your language learning routines with the many online aids that are at your disposal. Phraseum is a simple but handy browser tool that turns your day-to-day browsing into a language learning class. But only if you are thinking of learning something new.
We can harp on the fact that learning a new language improves the way our brain works; we can dwell on its benefits while travelling; we can repeat how a new language could nurture new relationships. But no. Let us just say that learning a language other than your native tongue opens up a whole new universe of possibilities.
Get Better At a New Language While Browsing the Web
Listening and reading are the two sure-fire ways to expand your vocabulary and improve your fluency. One of the reasons my own language learning efforts failed to take off initially was my focus on speaking rather than building the foundations of a vocabulary.
Phraseum is a web clipper that helps you build your own knowledgebase of foreign phrases while browsing the Web. Your Phraseum account provides a central place to manage all the new phrases you come across while browsing. But Phraseum is not just a simple input tool. The features built into Phraseum help you grow your vocabulary exponentially with the help of others.
Learning a new language isn’t only words and grammar. The interplay of prepositions with nouns, pronounds, and phrases; colorful uses of metaphors idioms, and figurative words (even jargon) are just some of the things that goes into it. Phraseum helps you collect all the arbitrary examples you come across so you can learn their nuances.
If you have got your basics right, but want to explore a language in all its shades, Phraseum is for you. Phraseum is free to use. While signing up, you have to specify the language you are attempting to learn. After dragging the Clipping Button to the bookmarks bar, you should be ready to put yourself on the path of learning.
Save and Organize With the Clipping Button
The Clipping Button is a simple browser bookmarklet you can use on any browser. The Web offers a lot of reading in any language of your choice. You can highlight any text (word or phrase) on a webpage and click the Clipping Button to save it on your Phraseum account. The screenshot below illustrates how you can collect, tag, and organize:
Tags are used to organize the phrases and describe them better. You can use tags to attach meaning, location, place, or anything else that could help you with recall and retention later. As you can see in the screenshot above, you can use multiple tags to better describe a particular phrase. Phraseum also includes the original source i.e. the webpage where you picked up the phrase from, so you can go back to understand the context for the usage. As you go merry clipping phrases, it really pays to keep your collection organized.
Apart from tags, phrases can be placed in specific categories. For instance, if you are consciously collecting business terminologies before an important meeting, they can be assigned to a “meeting” or “business” category. This is handy because you can then focus on the areas where you need to build up your vocabulary. You can place a phrase in multiple categories. Categories can also be kept private or public.
Build Your Vocabulary List
Going solo on the language learning road isn’t an option these days with wide community support built into every site. Phraseum uses the wisdom of the crowds to offer you several ways to build up your phrase bank.
Phrase Feed: This is curated list suggested to you by Phraseum. The application looks into the phrases you have tagged and uses them to supply you with new and interesting phrases on your favorite topics. This might not show up in the beginning if you haven’t collected enough of your own phrases for Phraseum to make a judgment.
All Phrases: This is the complete databank of phrases and words from all users. You can arrange them by popularity or time. This section allows you to search and save phrases with a single click and could be the one-stop resource for expanding your list quickly. While saving them, you can put them in your own categories.
Similar Phrases: This is a link you will see below the saved phrase. Clicking it reveals other similar words and phrases if there are any in the data bank.
Add a New Phrase: You can also click on the brightly colored Add a New Phrase button to manually input a phrase from any other source.
Recall (and Retention)
You have collected a large pool of phrases. The hard work of retaining these new strange words and making coherent sentences out of them begins now. The quickest way to search is with the same tags you used to organize them in the first place. Enter keywords in the tag box and hit enter. The relevant phrases are displayed at the top while the less relevant ones move south. You can of course, drill down through the tag cloud and pick up the phrases you want. But in my limited time with the tool, I found that typing in keywords to sift through the collection helps strengthens the recall of new words.
A Language Learning Facilitator
It’s easy to think that every new-fangled tool will help us magically learn a new language. But that’s not so. Phraseum will not teach you a new language but it will help you get better at it. Phraseum won’t help you if you are new to a language; but if you are fairly hands-on with a language, the clipping button is just the tool to smoothen your flow. If you falter anywhere, Phraseum uses Google Translate to help you get the meaning in your native tongue or English. But do remember, Google Translate is not perfect as it too misses the nuances of some words. Grammar is the mortar of a language, and Phraseum will not come to your aid here.
Phraseum is meant to be a simple tool that will help you build extensive list of phrases that you can go back to and relearn what you might have forgotten. Think of it as your own reference list for new words and phrases which you collect as you go along. The collection will also serve as milestones of your progress.
Phraseum is in its infancy as a new web application, so I guess new features will come into the picture soon enough. Right now, the simplicity and ease of its use to build up vocabulary as we browse the Web during the normal course of a day is what it is all about. It succeeds there.