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 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.
Reviews editor Julian Chokkattu describes a Samsung smartphone in a video with Japanese subtitles from Language Reactor.
Reviews editor Julian Chokkattu describes a Samsung smartphone in a video with Japanese subtitles from Language Reactor.SCREENSHOT: WIRED VIA YOUTUBE
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.