We spend more and more time on the internet, and browser add-ons give us a unique opportunity to immerse ourself in foreign languages without getting up from the computer.
Below is our selection of the best Chrome extensions that let you learn languages as you browse.
Language Immersion for Chrome replaces random words (novice mode) and phrases (fluent mode) in pages you visit with Google translations in your target language. The translations aren’t always accurate (for example, they might use the wrong gender or register), but if you make sure to double-check what you learn, the tool is a great way to build up your vocabulary.
Once you get a grasp of the basics, you should consider graduating to content written in your target language. To get get the full educational benefit of native material, use Readlang to mark down new words as you proceed through the texts. Readlang makes it super easy to create your own library of texts you come across around the internet, lookup translations, highlights words based on how well you know them, review them through spaced repetition, and track your progress. Read our full review of Readlang.
Looking for some unpredictability in language learning? Flewent is an extension that will translate a specified percentage of words on any site into a language of your choice. Set the parameters once and watch how your regular trips to Wikipedia change into a language learning experience. The dictionary function will remember the translated words from each page, so you can always refer to the list to remind yourself what you have learned.
And if you want to give back to the community you can also edit the translations when you spot inaccuracies.
This simple idea for a tool will save you a surprising amount of time. If you ever tried to create vocab lists or reference sheets you know how much time and copy-pasting it can take. Speed Learning allows you to accelerate the process and automatically add the vocabulary treasures of the web straight to a Google spreadsheet. The words can be saved with the sentence they appear in so you will never lose the context they appeared in.
A reference spreadsheet is handy for a review on the go or, for example, if you preparing foreign language classes.
You thought you hated pop-ups? Google Dictionary may change your mind! This extension provides translations and definitions of the words you highlight. If you feel your language proficiency reached a higher level why not skip the translation and rely on the foreign language definition? The dictionary supports 12 languages including Japanese, Russian, Simplified and Traditional Chinese and will store the history of your lookups for future studying and revision.
When you start learning a language using a different writing system, typing on a new keyboard layout can be an unnecessary challenge which can really discourage and slow you down. Although you should master a native layout eventually, Google Input tools can be a great tool to get you going using the standard QWERTY layout.
Do you remember Lingua.ly from our list of top language earning resources? They also have a browser extension which allows you to read the web similarly to Readlang making every page a source of new vocabulary. Clicking on a word will not only provide you with the definition, but also grammatical information and audio. If you fear you’ll forget the words, worry not as Lingua.ly also automatically creates flashcards with images and audio—you can later revise them on the web app.
The extension is integrated with the web app where you can revise your flashcard and read native content that includes the words you have looked up most recently. You can also opt in to reminders to make sure you regularly review the vocab you’ve accumulated.
Bored of flashcards? MyVocabu is another translation add on, supporting over 20 languages and allowing to store a list of translated items. You can add your own pictures to represent the words you have learned and edit the appearance of the pop up and the language pairs. Apart from simply storing the vocabulary the extension also offers different exercises to practice the words—having a bit of a variation in the flashcard theme is very refreshing and makes revision much less monotonous! Out of more exciting workouts there is a word-builder and pronunciation practice.
You can also translate longer fragments of the text by pasting it in a little window that opens upon clicking the extension symbol on the Chrome toolbar.
Thats an extension equivalent of a superfood smoothie with all the features included in one window. Foreign Language Pad is designed to help users write native sounding sentences whether on chat, emailing with native speakers or commenting on blog posts.
A pop up window of FLP includes the basics: a dictionary to look up single words and machine translation service to help with creating full sentences. However, that’s not the end. How often is it that the machine translated sentence ends up sounding not entirely “native”? despite Google’s efforts, still quite often. Foreign Language Pad allows you to search the internet for the frequency of usage of the phrase you have written or translated so you can make sure it is used by others. On top of that, you can also listen to the sentences you have written.
The system of abbreviations and keyboard shortcuts in this takes a few moments to get used to and may be tricky to figure for Mac users. Nevertheless, after overcoming these little obstacles, it’s a nice tool.
What it says on the tin! We all have the automatic Bing translate into the browser’s language on Facebook. The “translate” button pops up by the statuses of our foreign (or foreign language practicing) friends and tempts us with a one click solution to deciphering their night musings. Facebook Translate allows you to chose a different language into which you may want to translate the Facebook posts. If you’re learning Japanese why not set it to Japanese and see how that joke of your friend Joe would sound in Japanese? Of course, the translations are created by Google translate so don’t expect poetic results, but this is yet another way to turn your social media feed into a learning experience.
Helps you train the conjugation of English and German verbs. The verbs with their three grammatical forms will randomly pop up on the chosen part of the screen while you’re browsing the web. It can be pretty surprising and distracting, but at the same time will prepare you for the fast pace of a real life conversation where you have to recall the past participle to complete your masterfully created sentence.
It’s an interesting idea for verbs’ learning, although it could probably be expanded by adding verbs in more languages—currently there are only two with translations into five— and improved upon by making it a bit less… annoying? Any developers here up for the challenge? 😉