Google 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 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 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 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.
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.