Language Immersion: learn a language without trying

A while back, I reviewed a Chrome extension that might be even more useful now than it was in spring. Why? Because Language Immersion is a little app that helps you learn a language as you browse the web, and since we’re moving into the season of vacations, language exchanges and summer courses, now is a great time to start using it.

As an add-on, Language Immersion is super-simple to install. Just make sure you’re using Chrome when you click download, and it will install almost immediately. There are a few options that you’ll need to tweak before using it, obviously – the most important being what language you want to use it for! As Language Immersion is closely tied into Google Translate, you have the same selection of languages available – at the moment, that stands at 64.

You’re also going to need to pick an immersion level for Language Immersion – novice, intermediate or fluent. The app then works by partially translating the text on whatever page you are browsing into your chosen language. Obviously, the page will be more or less translated according to the immersion level you picked, but even so, it’s not a big problem if there’s a word you don’t understand. Just click and Language Immersion will show you the original. If you find there are lots of words you don’t understand, however, it might be advisable to lower the immersion level a step.

Language Immersion only has 2 extras, but they’re good ones. Firstly, you’ll be able to highlight the translations or not. Highlighting obviously makes them easier to find, but if you’re relatively fluent, or hoping to become so, it might be a good idea to let your subconscious do the work and not draw attention to the translations at all.

Secondly, some language combinations offer to speak the translation. This is again closely tied into Google Translate, and is only available for a handful of languages, such as Chinese and Arabic. Even so, if you’re learning a language that’s covered, it’s a great addition and will really help with understanding and pronunciation.

So, will Language Immersion really help you learn a new language without even trying? Yes and no. If you already speak a little of the language, and you’re actively learning more, it’s definitely a good idea. It’s easy enough to toggle on and off, but in reality, it’s not annoying, even if you’re trying to read something serious. Don’t expect to learn Mandarin with just Language Immersion, though – if you’re a total beginner, you’re going to need some lessons. If you’re already on the case, however, Language Immersion is a great learner’s aide.

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