How Google Chrome Can Help You Learn a New Language

How Google Chrome Can Help You Learn a New LanguageGoogle has produced a new extension for Google Chrome, and this one could help you learn a new language. It’s called Language Immersion for Chrome by Use All Five, Inc., and this extension allows you to select a language other than your own and configure the immersion level you wish to apply to pages as you browse around the Web. Once set, certain words and/or phrases will appear highlighted and translated in your selected language, making it easy for you to pick up on that second language as you become more and more familiar with common phrases used in articles.

For example, you could pick up a little extra Spanish every day by selecting Spanish and setting the immersion level down to novice. After a while, you may opt to gradually increase this immersion level to include a larger percentage of your daily reading until eventually you have a grasp of the written language.

This may seem confusing at first, but you can left-click any single component of the translated text to see it in English. You can also turn on audio translations to hear the words as you move your mouse over them. This will allow you to potentially learn both the spoken and written language simultaneously.

Language Immersion for Chrome works with all 64 Google-supported languages. This means you can select anything from Afrikaans to Yiddish, and all points in-between.

Granted, this isn’t exactly a Rosetta Stone. You won’t learn important phrases or frequently used terms in a setting that’s designed to increase comprehension or memory. Instead, the idea is to help you learn through repeated use of various words or phrases over time. You won’t exactly be a fluent Spanish speaker overnight.

However, if you’re a student of a foreign language and you’d like to begin immersing yourself in that language while you are learning, this could be the extension you’ve been waiting for. So much of our time is spent reading blogs and news sites online and this is just one way to put that time to additional use. You might not remember the content of the story you read during your lunch hour yesterday, but you could remember a little more of whatever foreign language it is you wish to learn more about.

Other Useful Chrome Extensions

Google Translate
Google Translate is based on the same powerful translation database that drives Language Immersion, though it allows you to translate an entire webpage with a single click. If you prefer to browse the Web in Spanish, for example, you can do this with the Google Translate extension. It also lets you quickly and easily convert sites presenting in foreign languages to English, allowing you to browse more sites from around the world with ease.

Polygot
Polygot is very similar to Language Immersion, as it also translates random words on a page to whatever language it is you wish to learn more about. Where it differs from Language Immersion is by drawing from the Bing translation database rather than Google’s.

Not everyone agrees in how things are translated, and some people may well prefer Bing’s tools over Google’s. This extension gives you that choice.

Quick Translate
Quick Translate is another useful extension for folks who are browsing a site that is in a second language. You may know most of the words on the page, but sometimes a single fancy word or two might pop up that you need a little help with. Quick Translate makes it easy to highlight the word or phrase in question and have it translated to your native language.

Final Thoughts

The Internet has given us a remarkable platform on which universal understanding and sharing of knowledge can take place. We are no longer bound by the limitations of region or the barrier of language. Today, we can communicate with virtually anyone around the world as long as we have a connection to the Web and the patience to do so.

Tools like Language Immersion have evolved after decades of tireless efforts on the part of engineers to develop a truly comprehensive method for eliminating the language barrier. Mobile apps that listen, translate, and speak in a number of different languages have made dreams such as a the Star Trek Universal Translator a reality. Extensions like these make it possible for us to use this type of technology to not only translate existing text to our own native language, but to learn and understand the languages of others.

This particular extension may be in an experimental stage, but the long-term potential of an extension such as this may well have huge implications on the language learning process. Even folks who know multiple languages fluently risk losing it through lack of use. Perhaps tools like these can help you maintain your knowledge as well. For now, it’s a cool feature that adds a novelty to your otherwise normal browsing experience.

Perhaps a day will soon come when the majority of Americans, like most of the modern world, are bilingual.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • Erick Moura

    Thanks for the advices… I have to improve my English skills… And perhaps also the Spanish…

  • rictownsend

    Excellent

  • Eug132

    So… How do you change the words in the story you are reading?

  • D Bishop

    this is great!

  • Joachim

    It’s polyglot… not polygot…

  • Spika3411

    thanks for all, i want to improve my english conversation & learn german language

  • Shawn Yin

    Good idea but terrible pronounce for Chinese translation…needs to be improved.

  • D. M. Chapman

    It would be nice if the Chrome plugin supported Chinese PinYin, as well.  ;o)

  • Jeremy Dubose

    Where is Japanese?

  • Nadiaamin786

    i want to english languege properly 

  • AliceM

    Oh dear, oh dear.  I wouldn’t bother with the fluent option, at least in French.  The principle is quite good though and even now the basic level might work reasonably well.  Except that, of course, they do have to be the right words. And if you are a beginner you have no option but to trust the programme which, sorry to say if very fallible.  The speaker was a native speaker though..until that is, it spontaneously switched into a Spanish speaker pronouncing, with some difficulty, the Frech, which was admittedly quite funny.

  • Ali Sipa

    you say to me about language but i find somthig else

  • Maximilian Majewski

    If you guys want to spend even more time learning a new language, also check out http://www.memrise.com. 

  • 209104953

    im gonna try it out cuz i want to learn french

  • Yaoziyuan

    “Language Immersion for Chrome”, and a Better Idea

    Google’s “Language Immersion for Chrome”

    Recently a Chrome browser extension called “Language Immersion for Chrome” has been much publicized. Developed by “Use All Five Inc.” on behalf of Google, the extension translates certain words and phrases on the Web page you’re browsing to a foreign language via Google Translate, for the purpose of helping you learn that foreign language while browsing the Web.

    I have been researching this kind of thing for years, and one of my main standpoints is machine translation shouldn’t be used in serious language learning as it is error-prone: it takes a learner a great effort to memorize a piece of erroneous knowledge, another great effort to “unlearn” this wrong knowledge and yet another great effort to “relearn” the right knowledge.

    But I do understand online machine translation services like Google Translate and Bing Translator are so readily available that directly using them to do the translation can minimize development costs. Upon seeing this news, I asked myself: “Can we use a kind of freely available, manually prepared data, instead of machine translation, to do this better?” And the answer is YES!

    A Better Idea

    Imagine if we have a database of manually-translated bilingual sentence pairs (such as those multilingual movie subtitle files on those subtitle websites), e.g.

            (German)  Er ist ein guter Schüler.
            (English) He is a good student.

    Now if a German wants to learn English, and he happens to be browsing a German Web page that contains the German word “Schüler” (student), and the computer finds out that this German word also occurs in a bilingual sentence pair like the above. Now, the computer can teach English for this German word, by inserting the above bilingual sentence pair into that Web page, like an embedded advertisement. This way, the German will learn the English word “student”, and better yet, learn it in a bilingual sentence pair! This means he will not only learn the word “student” alone, but also its syntax, semantics and pragmatics, all implied by this example sentence. As to phonetics, the computer can use text-to-speech to read aloud the English sentence, or display some kind of pronunciation guide above or alongside the English sentence (see my recent project “Phonetically Intuitive English” for such a pronunciation aid: https://sites.google.com/site/phoneticallyintuitiveenglish/).

    That’s the basic idea. But of course we can further refine this idea. For example, if there are multiple bilingual sentence pairs containing “Schüler”, the computer can prefer a pair that contains words that appear near “Schüler” on the Web page (i.e. context words). This would be very useful if the word in question (Schüler) is ambiguous.

    Besides bilingual sentence pairs, we may also explore multilingual data from Wiktionary and Wikipedia, although their usage may not be as straightforward as the model discussed above. I leave this as homework for the reader.

    I also intend to develop a Chrome extension based on the idea discussed above :-)

    Best Regards,
    Ziyuan Yao
    https://sites.google.com/site/yaoziyuan/

  • Rmame77

    How do you activate the audio translation?