Name is now changed to LangLadder
Learning a new language is hard. It takes an enormous amount of effort to get to a base level and an equal or greater amount of effort to master. Unlike the the skill of riding a bike, fluidity with a foreign language can grow rusty and unusable after years of neglect. We must fit language practice into our daily routines.
This is not as easy as it sounds. We live in a busy world where time is the scarcest resource. Between our careers, social lives and other obligations, it's hard to find the any time to spend on learning. It becomes a choice between spending our valuable free time doing what we feel like at the moment or spending those minutes with an open book studying.
Studying language using books is such a dreadfully manual process now. We scribble down notes after looking up words in a dictionary, study, go back to our notes and repeat. Also, often times the only books in this foreign language that are available in our country are textbooks filled with stories that do not interest us in the slightest. The whole process is just so long, dreadful and hopeless.
I set out to build the LangLadder jetpack project to make learning a foreign language more enjoyable by reducing two common obstacles.
1.) Eliminate the choice between free time and language learning by merging the two. According to a December 2009 research study, an average net user surfs the web 13 hours per week excluding email. That is almost 2 hours on the web per day reading news and blogs about sports, politics, gossip, entertainment, technology, etc. Many of these same stories are reprinted in almost every language on Earth.
2.)Secondly, I automate many of the incredibly boring repetitive chores involved in language learning. I provide a language translation tool (google translate), built in search suggestions in foreign and native languages, a bookmark tool, and a flashcard tool that keeps track of flashcard quiz performance. All this combined makes reading a foreign web page a lot less awful.
This is not meant to be a full scale language learning platform. It is simply meant to be an intelligent tool to assist intermediate/advanced students of languages by providing contextual vocabulary related to their particular area of interest.
Personal Background I have spent much of my life unsuccessfully trying to learn Spanish. My memory for words is just really bad. I happened to be spending several months in South America this year and really wanted something like LangLadder to exist to help me learn Spanish. Now my selfish dream has come to fruition.
How To Use
Install by following the link at
I am currently uploading a vimeo video. I am not sure when that will show up but I will place it on the website when it does.
I will list out the specific features in case I missed things in the video
-User can search in public domain books, blogs and google search in the foreign language of choice
-words can be added to langladder by highlighting a word, right clicking on it and selecting "add to langladder", then the word, then translation, the sentence it appeared in and the URL of the webpage will be saved
-flashcards can be edited and deleted in the organize tab
-flashcards can be filtered by original URL they were added from
-webpages can be saved for further review. The name they are saved as can be edited and deleted in the "starting out" tab
-Flashcards can be studied in the "review" tab. The review algorithm is non-deterministic and easy to modify by adjusting performance heuristics. Performance is visually shown by showing up to ten thumbs up or thumbs down which represent your last ten repetitions. The highlight color gradually changes from red to green as your exponential average rises above 60%.
-webpages can be opened from the "starting out" tab or the "organize" tab. Web pages opened this way will show words being studied with a background that represents how well you know the cards:green good, red bad (see above)
-Whenever the panel object comes to jetpack, I want to add a panel that will give the user some options rather than automatically adding the word to the flashcards.
-The colored links to saved words on pages should be given popout captions with translations.
-The longer term goal is to make this a web service so that people can use it on any computer or device. They can also see what is popular with other language students of their chosen language. Make it more "social"
(Most weird bugs I have encountered are fixed if the jetpack is reloaded)
-Events sometimes trigger more than once per click causing multiple tabs to open when you just click once
-If you are filtering on a website and add new words, the filtering mechanism gets messed up and the panel needs to get reloaded.