Learning with texts

I added a few links in a comment on Alex’s post about Links of Interest but there is one that I think  deserves its own page. Learning with texts is a really incredible tool that I try to use myself for learning German and that I’ve gotten one or two students to try for English. Watch this video to see a demonstration:

It’s a brilliant concept, in my opinion. Once you get it set up properly, you’ll see which words you know and don’t know in a text before you start reading. You can get translations and make flashcards directly from your texts. And you’ll be able to instantly check other texts in which a word has appeared. It’s not a perfect tool, by any means (not the most elegant UI, a bit of work to get set up, no use of word tokens (“dog” and “dogs” are unique words in its database), phrasal verbs and phrases are tough to put in the system, you need an internet connection and electronic texts, it takes some effort to make it work well), but it really is something that I think will be the future of language learning.

Imagine if you had a database that linked all the times you had read (or heard! imagine once usable text-to-speech is really here) a word. Imagine the connections you’d be able to make with meanings and experiences. Now imagine that you’re a teacher and you could see the real “learner corpora” of all of your students–you could run your texts through their databases and see which words your students have actually never seen before rather than just playing a guessing game. Could it happen in our lifetimes?