Toucan: Can you learn a language while browsing the web?
Learning new languages is a time consuming task, even if you focus your main attention on certain aspects, e.g., reading and understanding, only. The past decade has seen the rise of new language learning services and apps, which help you learn languages, or at least the vocabulary that is required.
Toucan falls into that category. You may use the browser extension to learn the following languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.
What makes it stand out, in comparison to apps such as Duolingo or Memrise, is the fact that you learn languages on webpages that you visit. The main idea behind Toucan is to replace some words on webpages with words from another language. Move the mouse over a word and you get the translation and an option to hear it pronounced.
You get contextual translations and on-demand translations for all of the words in the free version of the service. The preferences display a handful of important options. Use them to select the language that you want to learn, the number of words that you want Toucan to translate into the desired language, and your language experience.
Toucan translates just a few beginner words by default, but you may change the number of translations and the experience level to change that.
The extension can be used on any site, but it needs to be granted explicit access. It is a good compromise between offering the service at all and preventing that it has access to all sites and translates words on all sites automatically.
Options to pause the automatic translation feature on individual sites or all sites are provided.
The base version can be extended with a premium subscription. It is available for less than €4 per month and adds quizzes, games, saved word reviews and personalized learning experiences to the service.
Can you learn a language using Toucan?
Toucan focuses on vocabulary and to some degree pronunciation. It works surprisingly well when it comes to improving your vocabulary, but it lacks support for other foundations, such as grammar or speech.
Toucan is best used as a complementary tool to learn one of the supported languages, but it falls short as a standalone language learning service.
If you are already learning a language, you may find Toucan useful as a tool to improve your vocabulary. One of the great features of Toucan is that it works on the sites that you visit and that the words that you learn using it may come from an area of interest instead of more generic scenarios.
All in all, it is worth a try if you learn one of the languages and want to improve your vocabulary.
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