Toucan Teaches You a New Language While You Browse the Internet

[…] Toucan, a browser extension, is trying a different approach, and it might just be the thing that finally clicks for you.

How Toucan works

With Toucan installed for either ChromeEdge, or Safari, the first time you visit a website or click on an article, you’ll notice something strange: Some of the words on the page will change, and translate to your chosen language. If you’re trying to learn Portuguese, you might see a sentence like esta, but one or two palavras will be translated.

Hover your cursor over the translated word, and a pop up will reveal what it means in English. (“Esta” is “this;’ “palavras” is “words.”) This pop up gives you additional interesting controls, such as a speaker icon you can click to hear how the word is pronounced, a mini quiz to see if you can spell the word, and a save button to highlight the word for later.

It starts out with one word at a time, but as you learn, Toucan ups the ante, adding more words in blocks, or “lexical chunks.” It makes sense, since languages don’t all share the same grammar structure. By building up to larger groups of words, you’ll more naturally learn word order, verb conjugation, and the general grammar of your chosen language.


According to the company, the extension is based on a theory called [second] language acquisition, which, in this context, can be summed up as: You learn languages best when you are immersed in the language in a relaxed manner, rather than attempt to drill the new words and grammar into your head over and over again. If you ever felt like high school Spanish class got you nowhere on your language acquisition journey, Toucan might argue it’s because that system isn’t effective for most people.

Of course, Toucan doesn’t take the Duolingo approach, either, hounding you with reminders to get in your studying. It wants you to put in as little effort as possible into learning a new language. When you’re using the internet as you normally do, you’re bound to visit websites and read articles you’re actually interested in. If Toucan translates some of those words to your target language, you’ll be more inclined to pick them up, since you’re already engaged with the text, rather than reading boring lesson materials. You’re doing what you always do (wasting time online) while dipping your dedos do pé into a new language.

Source: Toucan Teaches You a New Language While You Browse the Internet

Unfortunately not in Firefox and also not in the language I need, but looks very promising!

Organisational Structures | Technology and Science | Military, IT and Lifestyle consultancy | Social, Broadcast & Cross Media | Flying aircraft