Learning another language is hard when you aren’t immersed in it. Sure, you could move to Paris like you’ve always wanted to, but it’s probably more cost effective to use the Internet. Luckily, Google has released a few new tools to help you on your way.
The most fun is the Language Immersion extension for Google Chrome. Install it and all of a sudden snippets of everything you read will be in another language. Choose from 64 languages and pick an immersion level ranging from novice to fluent.
I decided to test it out by setting it to Spanish and intermediate. It can be a little disorienting to be reading in English and all of a sudden be interrupted by a Spanish phrase, which sometimes doesn’t entirely make sense in the context of the sentence.
Still, it’s a pretty impressive tool, perfect for someone like me who knows a decent amount of Spanish but is looking to beef up on their vocabulary. If you’re having trouble with a phrase, you can always click it and it will revert back to English.
Right now it looks like it can only translate English into other languages, so if you are a native French speaker looking to translate Le Monde into Afrikaans, you’re out of luck. It’s probably best for Google to take it slow; as impressive as the Chrome extension is at matching up the syntax of two different languages, it still makes plenty of mistakes.
In other translation news, Google’s Automatic Message Translation feature in Gmail has finally passed through the Gmail Labs phase and is now a regular feature. Now whenever you receive a message in another language, you can simply select “Translate conversation” in the “More” drop-down menu. Again, not perfect, but good in a jam or when you’re just curious about what your spam actually means.