Not long ago, if you wanted to look up a word in the language you were studying, you’d have to flip through a heavy dictionary. The world, and how we learn languages, has changed dramatically in the last few decades.
If you, like 64% of Internet users, choose Chrome as your web browser of choice, then this article is for you.
You might already know that Chrome offers a variety of extensions for just about everything imaginable through their Web Store. But perhaps you never thought about how you could make use of these to help you learn a new language.
Here are some of my favorite Chrome extensions that are specifically designed for language acquisition, making it even easier to study a new language.
Readlang is an excellent resource for helping improve reading comprehension. Once you download Readlang from the Chrome Web Store, it’ll become easier to read the text of almost any webpage in the language you’re trying to learn.
If you see a word or phrase that you don’t recognize, you can click on it to see its English equivalent, helping you to absorb new vocabulary words in the context that they naturally appear. Better still, these words you look up will automatically be saved to your word list, along with the sentence in which they appeared, making it incredibly easy to review.
Readlang also provides a variety of pre-made flashcards, public texts, and videos, arranged by difficulty level, length, or content type. Plus, not unlike LingQ, learners can upload their own texts to study with.
There are also some videos, but the number is pretty limited. However, I’m hopeful that this part of Readlang grows over time as it’s an excellent feature. With it, as you watch a YouTube video, the captions are automatically highlighted as the dialogue is spoken (or sung!), and of course, you can click on unknown words to see their meanings.
While Readlang is amazing and supports over 500 different languages, it’s definitely better for languages that use the Latin alphabet. Those studying Chinese might want to try the Zhongwen extension, while Japanese learners may be better off using Rikaikun.
Language Learning with Netflix
Language Learning with Netflix is an excellent tool to combine relaxation with language learning — as you enjoy binge-watching your favorite TV shows or movies after a long day at work or school, you can also work on your language acquisition!
This extension provides translated subtitles for a wide variety of Netflix shows and movies in addition to the English subtitles that already come with Netflix. As you watch, you can read along and look up unfamiliar words in the language you’re trying to learn, making the experience of improving reading and listening comprehension much more enjoyable!
If you’re a beginning language learner, you can also change the speed of the subtitles or gray out more difficult words that you can skip in favor of easier words. If you’re more advanced, you can increase the subtitle speed to help train you to read faster! Finally, the Language Learning with Netflix site has a list of Netflix titles that have high-quality language subtitles, sorted by country availability, making it super easy to find a new show or movie to watch.
The end result is something pretty similar to FluentU, but has more interesting content and no subscription cost.
Google Input Tools
Ok, this one may not be as exciting as the other options on this list, but hear me out.
I spent years living in Latin America and never bothered to figure out how to type using accents or the ñ. Don’t be like me – type like you know the language. That way, when you go and have your writing corrected by other language learners for free with italki’s Notebooks, it’s obvious that you know what you’re doing.
Google Input Tools is a transliteration tool, which means that if you type any foreign word phonetically using the Latin alphabet, this extension will automatically translate it into the language of your choice.
If it’s confused about what you typed, it will provide a variety of possible transliterations, and you can manually pick the one that you meant to type. It also provides virtual keyboards for over 90 languages, so if you’re trying to learn a language that uses a non-Latin alphabet, it makes it much faster and easier for you to type.
Finally, it has a handwriting option — you can use your cursor to draw out the shape of the letters or characters that you’re trying to type, and Google Input Tools will convert your drawing into the correct letter or character.
Langly is a simple but impressive tool for growing your vocabulary. Every time you open a new tab on Google Chrome, Langly will automatically present you with a new vocabulary word and its English translation on your home screen.
On this home screen, you can also click a button that plays the word, allowing you to hear a native speaker saying the word! For those of you who love aesthetically pleasing backgrounds, you’ll be pleased to find out that Langly’s home screens also depict beautiful snapshots of gorgeous landscapes, in addition to new vocabulary words.
The drawbacks to Langly are that it only provides new vocabulary words for French, Spanish, and German languages, and sentences are isolated, without any example sentences. However, it’s still an easy way to add a little extra practice every time you open a new tab.
Rememberry is another super useful vocabulary translation and flashcard extension that helps you improve your reading comprehension as you browse the Internet. In this regard, it’s fairly similar to Readlang.
Also, Rememberry automatically translates the text of any given webpage. Once the text is translated, you can click unfamiliar words and get their English translations, synonyms, as well as their pronunciations, although, unfortunately, it does rely on text to speech.
You can add these new vocabulary words to flashcard decks and sort them by category. Later, you can use these flashcards to review the vocabulary you encountered with any of their four options for reviewing: translate, reverse translate, listening, and typing.
Plus, Rememberry uses Spaced Repetition to calculate the order and frequency with which each vocabulary word appears in your flashcard decks, optimizing new vocabulary acquisition. Finally, Rememberry can alert you with notifications if it’s been a while since you’ve used your flashcards, which helps hold you accountable for learning new vocabulary words!
What have we missed?
These Google Chrome extensions are an excellent way to multitask — so many of us already spend so much time browsing the Internet for work, for school, and for fun, and by using these extensions, it’s easy to squeeze in some extra studying time!
Are there any other extensions you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments!