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Read and learn...

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Posted by MadaboutDana
Nov 13, 2020 at 09:23 AM


Well, I’m sure we all aspire to read and learn, but in this case, I’m talking about an iOS/iPadOS app called “Read and Learn” (readandlearnapp.com) which is one of the best ideas of its kind I’ve come across.

Okay, so first things first: it’s not, strictly speaking, an outliner. Well, okay, it’s not an outliner at all. But it’s a great information management concept!

You download a book in a language you’re learning. You start to read the book. You come across a word you don’t know. You prod it with your finger (sorry, “tap” it). A dictionary definition appears. You may want to change it, you may want to add another definition from another dictionary – easy, there’s an option to consult more or less any dictionary you have installed on your iPad/iPhone. You use the definition to create a “card” (source word/phrase, target translation, notes) which is inserted into a “word set” (= mini-glossary). You can view your word sets in a separate column alongside your book, if you want to. At no point do you have to leave the actual book while you’re creating a new word/phrase card or word set. But if you want to, you can access the cards later and edit them (if you want to add notes or extra definitions). There’s also a separate “learning” function which effectively works like a flash-card app – again, easy to access and works well. So after reading your book, making your word sets and (if necessary) editing your cards, you can run through all the new vocabulary you’ve learned. Neat!

If you buy the Pro version (for a measly £4, yes, count ’em, four pounds or five dollars), you can create unlimited word sets and an unlimited number of cards. You can then export each word set as a CSV file, so you can easily create a separate macro-glossary. Here, of course, you could choose to use some kind of outliner software, so I’ve managed to find a very tenuous link to outliners after all ;-)

You can download books from anywhere. The app offers a selection in each of the many languages it covers, as well as a selection of open-source dictionaries. It also uses Google or Yandex as a background translation engine. You can also import books (in a variety of formats) directly from Files.

It’s one of the simplest, best-designed concepts for enhancing your foreign-language reading I’ve ever encountered, and I’m mesmerised! Living in France as I do, I’m constantly seeking to boost my French to mother-tongue standard (okay, it probably won’t happen, but there’s no harm trying!), so I read a lot of French literature (I read a huge amount of German, too, but that’s mostly for professional purposes). And this is by far the best app for doing so – you can very rapidly create glossary entries without interrupting the flow of your reading, which makes my previous system (reading app on one side, spreadsheet app on the other, multiple dictionaries lurking in the background) seem positively antediluvian.

As I mentioned, the app covers a huge range of languages, because it’s using external translation services and dictionaries. BUT they’re all neatly integrated with the simple act of reading. Thoroughly recommended!



Posted by Luhmann
Nov 13, 2020 at 12:27 PM


For Chinese readers you can do this within the Pleco dictionary app, which has integrated flashcards and e-book reader, as well as some graded readers you can buy through the store. It works on both iOS and android. A major new version is planned soon, with a revamped user interface.



Posted by Luhmann
Nov 13, 2020 at 12:28 PM


I meant to add that the main advantage of Pleco is the quality of the dictionaries one can install. They aren’t cheap, but are far better than what you get for free…


Posted by Listerene
Nov 14, 2020 at 01:29 PM


FWIW, you can do that with a Kindle e-reader as well.


Posted by MadaboutDana
Nov 16, 2020 at 02:30 PM


Yes, I regularly use the dictionary in Kindle already – but Kindle doesn’t (at least, on Kindle readers it doesn’t) allow you to create your own glossaries/flash cards.

Unless I’m missing something… now you’ve made me anxious!



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