Archive for the ‘Vocabulary’ Category

POS-Tagsets. A list.

Digitales Wörterbuch der Deutschen Sprache


If you can handle – or actually prefer the increased stimulus of – a monolingual dictionary resource, this one looks nice – with its parallel display of dictionary entries, etymology, common collocates, and empirical use in KWIK format – and well-founded: Based on the  Wörterbuch der deutschen Gegenwartssprache (WDG) and providing access to many corpora that document empirical  use (including frequency and longitudinal information) of the language – modern German, including  spoken language and many newspapers, altogether comprising about 1.75 bn words.

Advanced language learners can test their English, German or Spanish proficiency in 3.5 minutes here using Exhale

2014/05/23 4 comments

Update: A new version of the Spanish vocabulary test is here, and the English vocabulary test has been updated here.

Go here and click English or German, or  (also requiring only 3.5 minutes to take, but more for  manually grading your test with this answer key) go here for Spanish, if you want to to take a simple quick vocabulary test that has been shown to correlate well with general proficiency.  You can find more info here on English and German, and here on Spanish.

How to install and use a free dictionary/encyclopedia app in MS-Word 2013

Installing is easy (our example is Wikipedia): Right-click a word, pick “define” from the  context menu, the click download in the side pane for the app you choose.


Usage is also easy: To look up phrases, select, right-click and choose define: imageimage

To look up individual words, you can also just double-click the word: image

You can also click “Expand”: image

To install more dictionaries after the first one, click Insert / Apps for Office. imageimage

You can search for your L2 (too many to list): image

It works for base forms: image

But I cannot lemmatize (ouch): image

I found out that when I go to Insert/ My Apps/ See all : image, I can show more than one app in the side pane.


However,how o I change the default lookup that happens on double click on a word?

Learn and teach writing in your second language on


Improving language learning with technology for me seems to have 2 avenues: AI and human intelligence. Automated feedback on writing provided by proofing tools – even if they have become smarter and more contextual to spot (in MS-Word 2007 and up) common errors like your/you’re or their/there – makes one wonder about the feasibility of the former. But that automated essay-scoring tools which have been developed and deployed (at least for ESL) claim to score similarly as teachers makes one wonder about much more… Correcting writing remains expensive!

So may be we should look into crowd-sourced writing correction which needs no cutting edge NLP, only well-understood WWW-infrastructural technology to connect interested parties, but requires social engineering to attract and keep good contributors (and a viable business model  to stay afloat: This site seems freemium).

Reading online comments and postings in your native language makes one wonder: can language teachers be replaced by crowdsourcing? I became aware of this the language learning website that offers peer correction of writing input by native-speaker through a language learner corpus. I have not thoroughly evaluated the site, but the fact that its data is being used by SLA researchers here ( seems a strong indicator that the work done on the website is of value.

To judge by the numbers accompanying the corpus (it is a snapshot from 2010, a newer version is available however on request), these are the most-represented L2 on  image

Common commands in Speech Recognition for all languages supported

(I cut a corner and left out the language variants ZH-TW and EN-UK, sorry, we do not teach those here):

A first look at the Google Dictionary extension for Chrome

  1. We
    1. have not pre-installed in the LRC (for that the extension would need to be more manageable by the teacher during face-to-face classes, which include exams),
    2. but can (with some reservations) recommend the Google Dictionary extension (even though it is only available for Chrome). Here is why:
  2. Google dictionary extension provides an interface to Google define and translate
    1. that is convenient (as quickly accessed like glosses) for reading activities in many languages (Q: is the privileged word sense displayed here intelligently chosen?)
    2. while (for some languages more than for others) providing access to additional word senses, usage examples and historical background information
  3. Interface 1: Tooltip,
    1. for English with audio image
    2. for other languages without audio (even though audio pronunciation may be available in Google translate for that language): image
    3. convenient access (I have been loving the tooltip interface since Google toolbar days)
    4. limited, but useful  information,
      1. a word sense – not that this is still not contextually intelligent (Cannot blame them here!) and hence more than one word sense should be offered (here I must blame them: Boo!!): E.g.  here “arch” should at show more than the most common word sense: imageimage
      2. including pronunciation (not IPA, but audio)
    5. Interface 2 (“more”)
      1. For English, a click on “more” leads to the Google “define”search operator (the related etymology search operator has been reviewed here before): image
      2. Interface 3: unfold the search results by clicking on the down arrow at the bottom to access additional information:image =
        1. additional word sense entries
        2. historical:
          1. etymology
          2. frequency data
        3. translation/dictionary entry:
          1. for our learners of languages other than English, the translation appears right in the tool tip, see above;
          2. for our ESL learners, this seems a few too many steps for accessing this information, although a monolingual dictionary is useful in many instances also.
    6. For languages other than English, a click on more leads to Google translate, which (should get its own article, but for what it is worth) can be
      1. more limiting than “define”: While you are given multiple word senses for
        1. Spanish: image
        2. and to a lesser extent, for
          1. Arabic: image
          2. Hindi: image
      2. for many languages the results are much more limiting:
        1. Even if you look up German or French, you revert back to the (pedagogically terrible) single word-sense original “translation” interface ) image
        2. For East Asian languages, you get Roman alphabet transcriptions
          1. e.g. Chinese with Pinyin: image
          2. e.g. Japanese: image
  4. Still no per-user tracking? Here it would make sense for the user.