The reading part of the language learning. For me, the one that carries the most insights and can bring us to the country, even if we do not live there.
The reading is always defined by the culture and the culture shapes the writing, and with that the reading material in, as a consequence the thinking process.
That is why reading in a foreign language can be such a rewording experience. It is like walking the shortcut into the collective mind of the people.
The program I find most useful in this journey is Learning with Texts.
Learning with texts is a program, that helps with the reading of the texts. By importing any electronic text, the reading is made much simpler, by color coding the knowledge of the words and by having a a dictionaries at hand. There is also a possibility, to build the dictionary by yourself, using all the different online dictionaries and then taking advantage of that with the pop up translations of the words.
The first step in using the program is installing it. The instructions for Windows and Mac are on their site. The gist is, that a computer have to have a local server with PHP and MySql installed. There are packages, that can install everything at the same time, but you will need to search the internet to find them.
After installing them, open a local host page in a browser. It is 'http://localhost/lwt/' or 'http://127.0.0.1/lwt'. It opens the index page of the program on the local server.
Go the the language areas, and input the languages, that you are studying. There are nice explanations on the LWT page.
The only thing left to do, is to go to the Text tab, and start importing texts and reading them.
There are two thing, that make this program indispensable to me.
The first thing are the dictionaries. The easy access to the online ones and the local one. It really helps, that if I already saw the word, I had saved the translation and now I can only hover on the words, that is giving me problems, and I will have that same translation. If I didn’t see the word before. It makes looking up the words so easy, that there is no excuse, not to do it. Or excuse, to not be able to read at the certain level, since the words look up is so easy, it normally doesn’t derail you.
The online dictionaries can also be changed in the language section. There is a place for up to two online dictionary and the third is always google translate.
The second point is color coding. The unknown words are colored red and then the colour is lighter and lighter, until the words in white are the well known words. The words not in the database are blue. Just by seeing, how much red and white is in the text, I know, how easy it is for me. I almost never see the colours in between, because by the time I partly remember the word, it quickly ascend to the well known words.
The keyboard shortcuts can save some time in certain circumstances, but I found out, that I am usually not using them.
I do use the statistics, to see how well am I progressing. To think, that a language, that I hadn't even started learning a year ago have over ten thousand know words is encouraging. I even know, that not all the words that I know are there, so that make it even better. I can also see, how much progression did I make in the last month, to see if I am falling behind in any language.
There is also a space repetition subprogram in there, but I am only using it, if I am bored and have nothing better to do. Like on a rainy day and with no internet. But it can be useful, for people that use this kind of thing. It is crude, but it takes into account the level, at which the words are. The more they are marked as known, the longer interval they have.
I can wholeheartedly recommend this program to anybody, that one day wants to read better in the language. Even if the only language is the mother tongue of the person.
Here is a link for Learning with Texts webpage.