More foreign language tracking: vocabulary words

By | September 9, 2014

When creating my language learning website Language on Track, I wanted to add some other features in addition to goal tracking to really make it a nice set of tools to help study foreign languages.

The one part of LOT that I likely spent the most time on and am the most proud of is the Journal function, which allows word analysis of Japanese text, inputted either directly, via cut-and-paste, or via referring URL.

Once you input the text and kick off the analysis process, it will first figure out what words are present in the text. For Japanese, since there are no spaces this is quite a challenging task and involves alot of trial-and-error behind the scenes. After the words are found they are counted, and the results are displayed in a large table with the number of occurrences of each word in this journal entry, the number of occurrences in previous journal entries, as well as the top 10 vocabulary words with their counts.

At first this may seem like a exercise in textual analysis and statistics, but the results of the process can be very valuable to someone studying Japanese.

For example, imagine you have started a blog in Japanese where you write a few paragraphs a day. You can cut in paste this into the Journal module  and keep track of how many new words you’ve used and which words you are using the most frequently. You can set a goal like “I want to learn 5 new words a day and use them in a blog entry” and this tool will help you achieve that goal.

Another neat use is to enter in a URL of a Japanese-language article you plan to read, and then use the vocabulary list generated as a reference to look up words either before, or after, you read the article.

To help with this second scenario, I even added the ability to automatically look up the definitions for each vocab word and create a study list from them, and then create an online quiz using those words. For cases where there is more than one definition for a word you are asked to help differentiate which use was intended.

The process to do the analysis can take some time, so be prepared to wait a little while until it completes. Try to avoid analyzing huge pages as the server may time out if things take too long.

For all those of you who are interested, please check out the site which is still completely free and has no ads or other advertisements of any sort.

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