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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

7 Browser Extensions to Help Translate Different Languages

Harness the full potential of your browser with add-ons that can supercharge everything from web searches to email writing. For language learners who want to grow their vocabulary and develop confidence, browser extensions are an opportunity to casually practice while online. But before you download anything, here’s how to audit a browser extension to ensure it’s safe.

Whether you're streaming Netflix series during your spare time or gobbling up the latest tech news, at least one of the following picks is likely worth incorporating into your language learning process. Test the options that spark your interest and simply uninstall anything that you don’t enjoy. Although you will not receive speaking practice, these browser extensions can help hone your reading and listening skills.

Language Reactor

Language Reactor is for anyone who wants to practice a new language while streaming videos on their computer. After the browser extension is installed, YouTube videos are able to display two sets of captions at the same time. The list of available languages is impressive, and hovering over a captioned word displays a translation dictionary.

If you binge-watch movies and TV shows on your computer, Language Reactor’s other primary function is to provide dual captions for Netflix entertainment. Practice English with the minions from Despicable Me or brush up on your Korean during the Squid Game bloodbath.

In addition to Netflix and YouTube, Language Reactor requests access to your data from Amazon. To turn this off, click the puzzle icon located to the right of the address bar, and select Manage Extensions. Tap on Details, toggle off automatic access to listed sites, and manually pick the sites.

The basic extension is free. More features, like the ability to save vocabulary words, can be unlocked with a $5 monthly subscription. Language Reactor is available for Chrome, but its website says Firefox and Edge versions are in the works.

Extensions From Google

Google’s language tools receive a fair amount of criticism from teachers and human translators. When pasting large blocks of text into Google for translation, the subtle complexities of language are smoothed over. Literal meanings are easy to convey, but intentions and contexts are difficult to parse. Keeping these limitations in mind, Google Translate, Google Dictionary, and Google Input Tools are solid browser extensions for Chrome users.

The Google Translate extension is simple to use for pop-up translations as you browse the internet. You can adjust the settings so pop-ups happen automatically when you highlight a word, or buttons can appear beneath the highlighted word for you to click on to see the translation. Tap on the speaker icon to hear a word aloud. If this extension is pinned at the top of your browser, anytime you click on the icon, a text box for translation immediately appears.

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Google Dictionary does not support as many languages as Google Translate, but the extension is useful if you’re studying one of the available options. When double-clicking on a word, the definition pops up on screen. For more advanced readers, this can be crucial for learning new words without relying on direct translations. If you would like to go back and practice later, Google Dictionary lets you store a list of defined words.

Typing in German or Italian with a standard English keyboard is straightforward, but what if you're learning Hindi or Chinese? With Google Input Tools you can write in different languages. The transliteration feature allows you to type the phonetic spelling of a word and choose the corresponding script from a dropdown menu. In addition, the handwriting tool lets you draw characters from other languages by using your mouse cursor.

Toucan

While reading articles online, Toucan automatically translates a small portion of the content for blended language learning. Hovering over translations by Toucan shows the original word and allows you to play an audible pronunciation. The standard extension is free to use, but a subscription plan is offered for reviewing saved words and avoiding ads. Toucan is compatible with Chrome and Firefox.

For English speakers, the browser extension offers translations in 11 languages. Spanish, German, Korean, Arabic, and Hebrew are a few of the choices. The company is working to expand its offered languages with additions such as Vietnamese, Swedish, and Farsi.

By cherry-picking words out of larger blocks of text, you may not experience complete contextual accuracy while using Toucan. When approaching a new language, employing a myriad of learning strategies is better than relying on a single source of information. Toucan has its drawbacks but may be a fantastic tool for people who read multiple articles a day and would like supplemental language practice.

Mate Translate

With Mate Translate, words or phrases you read online can be translated into more than 100 languages. Double-click on a single word for a white text box to show the translation. If you tap on the speaker icon, a person will say the word aloud. Translate more than one word by highlighting the portion you would like to better understand and either clicking on the Mate Translate logo that appears below the selected words or using the keyboard shortcut, which is initially set to Shift + T.

Watching entertainment in other languages is a popular and accessible learning strategy; if you’re a Netflix subscriber, Mate Translate can be used on subtitles. The browser extension also allows you to translate entire webpages.

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As a versatile option, Mate Translate is available for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, and Safari. Unlock extra features for the extension, like synonym access and a dark mode, with a subscription to Mate Pro.

TransOver

The core functionality of TransOver is similar to Google Translate. Pick a language you want to practice and set the browser extension to activate either when you highlight a word or hover over a word. It’s available on Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. The extension is also on Edge but is poorly reviewed by users of that browser. TransOver is a simplistic, free option for people who want to occasionally translate words while surfing the Internet and don’t need a complicated browser extension cluttering their day-to-day user experience.


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