Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Three cyber tools that are very useful for language students

Wikipedia, Google’s Translation Engine, and Microsoft Word can be three very valuable tools for people learning to read foreign languages.

Wikipedia is an excellent source of texts. Google’s translation engine helps you understand these texts at a comparatively early stage in your studies. And Microsoft Word enables you to easily set up bicolumnar texts of the languages you are studying and their translations.

Here is an example of how I have been using these tools:

I looked up Wikipedia’s article on Bertrand Russell a philosopher who I greatly admire. In his day, he played a role that is similar to the one that Noam Chomsky is playing now.

I then processed the articles in Afrikaans, Norwegian, and Dutch that I found in Wikipedia on Bertrand Russell.

To process these texts, I ran them through Microsoft’s Notepad, which removed the HTML coding in the Wikipedia article and made these texts easy both to run through Google’s translator and to copy into my Microsoft Word documents.

I then used Microsoft Word’s columns feature to set up a double-column format to hold these texts, with the foreign texts on the left and the English texts on the right.

I then read through the foreign texts and compared them with the English text, correcting the English text as I went along.

Once I finished doing this, I formatted the document to print out page numbers at the bottom center of the page. (This is the ideal position for page numbers. They work equally well for documents that are either printed out either single or double sided.)

After doing this, I stapled these translations together and used a three-hole punch on them so that I can easily store them in notebooks, and I am accumulating double-columned documents like these in a variety of languages separated by tabs in a large notebook.

Eventually, when my collection expands sufficiently, I will have individual notebooks for each language.

Any language student with a reasonably good computer system and a connection to the Internet can use these tools in his or her studies. People interested in studying the texts in "Interlingua multilingue" in this way can easily convert them into useful double-columned documents in Microsoft Word or some other wordprocessor with similar capabilities.

This is a great way of both learning to read the languages supported by Google’s translation engine while building an expanding anthology of practice texts for review later on.

1 comment:

Novlangue said...

Russell predicted a nuclear war. It never happened!