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Foreign Language Education Software For Linux? 122

torinth asks: "Once upon a time, long, long, ago, I took some French classes in high school. I had to drop them, eventually, to provide more time for silly engineering courses, but now I want to get to back to learning the language a bit. Obviously, the best approach is to move up to Montreal or Paris for a bit and learn through immersion, but I really wouldn't mind getting a refresher first. There's a lot of Windows software for learning languages, but I just nuked my Windows partition, so now I'm wondering: Do any language educational programs exist for Linux?"
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Foreign Language Education Software for Linux?

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  • Errm. Why does this always happen on Slashdot? First 5 posts are to do with the original post, the rest descend to this level of social interaction and name calling.
  • My friend from the Georgian Republic (former Soviet republic) used Dragon's speech recognition system when learning English. He practiced English sentences until the engine was able to recognize them. This might be a good way to practice pronounciation because it helps unbias your accent. You speak a clear and in some sense 'pure' form of the language. There was quite a bit of mention on Slashdot about open source speech recognition engines.

    I know that I learned a lot about Portuguese grammar when I was trying to learn by talking to people from Brazil who were learning English. They would directly translate into English, so I would get a good idea of how to construct Portuguese sentences (eg: For to go there. The Maurio is arrived.) by observing interesting constructions in English. Maybe using Babelfish or something on the language of your choice would help you in this respect.

  • vas faire foutre a la vache
  • I'd hate to sound mean so early in the morning.... But maybe "ask slashdot" should be renamed to "ask slashdot users to type something in for me".

    Well, part of the point of Ask Slashdot is not to just ask for pointers (although people who include them are often moderated up), but for actual reccomendations from people who have worked with whatever the questions is about. If you just give pointers that you find with a search engine, you have no idea if the stuff pointed to is of any value.

  • enfoiré! sac à merde!

  • Immersion. Works great, it's teaching me Latin. Grammer isn't a main focus of the program, but all the info is in there.
  • Riiiggght - and the English one were to learn in Texas is....

    French is French. I live in Montreal, I'm Anglophone & my sweetheart is Francophone. We deal all of the time with folks from other parts of the world and yes, they're understandable. Some of the folks from Gaspasia are a bit difficult but it's all French.

    The French here is different then that spoken in Pais, as that differs from that spoken in Tolouse, Martinique, etc. Is any one of them "right"? Well Parisian French is generally considered (mostly by Parisians) to be the goal but that's about as realistic as BBC Received English being a big deal to most English speakers.

    The same as English varies from that garble spoken by Scots to the record-played-at-half-speed of the deep US South to the twisty pronunciations by folks from India French varies and learning any of them, particularly for the extrememly isolated/insulated US population is always a good thing.

    By the way, all written French is identical.

  • If there's one post that has lowered the level on /., this is it.

    But nevertheless, congratulations. This is the _worst_ french I've ever seen.

    Did you flunk french at school, or did you use babelfish?


  • We're still in the planning stages, but I'm working on a project for either my MS or Phd (haven't passed the review yet) in Instructional Psychology and Technology with an emphasis in second language acquition.

    I'm not supposed to say a lot right now, but rest assured that things like this are coming and I'm trying to use GNU code. Also, my undergrad work was a BA in la litterature francaise, so I'm really looking to bend this towards teaching anglophones French.

  • Well the question really is, are there more english speakers (not just native speakers) in the world than chinese speakers? I think if you cruise around Asia you will find that chinese is a damn good language to know and if, as you say, english is spoken widely all through Europe then I guess I've got it covered cause I already speak english! So really, about the only other language that I should wish to learn based on this popularity thing is spanish. Personally I'd like to learn german because the german language is everywhere in our society. You can watch popular movies and hear german, but for similar reasons it makes sense to learn chinese, so I dont have to read the subtitles on Jacky Chan flicks.

    Oh, and here I was thinking I could get through a single day of posting on slashdot without having someone insult me. Check your attitude dude and try to show some repect for your fellow man.
  • For whatever it's worth, when I was in school doing graduate work in Language Teaching Methods, I enthusiastically made technological approaches to language teaching a main focus of my study. After two years, I came away reluctantly concluding that if there is any way to use computers in language instruction which represents a real improvement over existing techniques, it hasn't been discovered yet.

    When I was teaching English over in Japan, I visited more than one school which had invested in fancy, expensive language teaching technology. The students' desks had headphones and microphones and lots of buttons to push. The other teachers and I shook our heads. It's expensive, it's technological, so it must be good.

    As for me, give me a blackboard and chalk, a decent textbook, and an ample xerox allocation, and I'll do just fine; that's what I need to do the best job I can. I don't think having computers in my classroom improves the class, except perhaps in a writing class where a word processor comes in handy. (Maybe I should add that it's not that I dislike computers in general; I've worked as a programmer and have been a hacker from way back. I've just come to the conclusion that computers aren't the right solution in this case.)

  • Rather than answer your question directly, I think I'll answer it with a joke I heard a long time ago. May it's punchline bring enlightenment. :)

    A chief from a small village deep in the jungle flew to the United States to visit the President.

    When he arrived at the airport, there was a large group of reporters and people with television cameras. One of the reporters asked the chief if he had a comfortable flight. The chief made a series of weird noises...."screech, scratch, honk, buzz, whistle, z-z-z-z-"...and then he added in perfect English, "Yes, I had a very nice flight."

    Another reporter asked, "Chief, do you plan to visit the Statue of Liberty while you're in the United States?"

    The chief made the same noises..."screech, scratch, honk, buzz, whistle, z-z-z-z"...and then said, "Yes, and I also plan to visit the White House and the Grand Canyon."

    "Where did you learn to speak English so well, Chief?" asked the next reporter. The chief replied, "Screech, scratch, honk, buzz, whistle, z-z-z-z...from the shortwave radio."

    (Stolen from sljokes/radio.html)

  • A person who speaks three languages is trilingual. A person who speaks two languages is bilingual. A person who speaks one language is an American.

    "Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto"
    (I am a man: nothing human is alien to me)

  • Don't forget to tell CNN that your home page is for France, tell your Netscape browser that French is your preferred language, tell Google to use French, tell your web mailer to use French...
  • Mandarin ... [is] linguistically inferior.

    What's "linguistically inferior"?

    Actually, Mandarin gained ascendency in Asia in the same way English did in the west (and, recently, worldwide) -- by hitching its wagon to the right horse. Or, in this case, dynasty.

    Some might argue that English is "linguistically inferior" (though I'm still not sure what that could mean) because it isn't linguistically pure -- being an amalgam of French and German, and retaining features of both. English is also much more difficult for adult speakers to learn than Mandarin.

  • oh that old chestnut again, just because someone can say "hello mister" doesn't mean they can speak english!
  • is someone going to repeat this bollocks every time there is a topic on slashdot about languages? if so can i quote this crap next time please?
  • perhaps not, quite a lot of people in places like southern china, m'sia, s'pore et cetera who have a siff first language but who have learned mandarin too
  • are you holding a conversation with yourself or something?!
  • Can you run Wine if you don't have any winblows
    partition on your PC?
    If you do, what about installing winblows programs?
  • My desktop (GNOME) is in Danish, which I am trying to learn. (I also installed the Danish version of StarOffice.) I just do what I normally do with a Danish dictionary at my side. Even the command line responds in Danish! Having to use a Danish environment, which reinforces my knowledge of the language from necessity and repetition, is doing wonders for my vocabulary. Although I have to admit my vocabulary is a bit selective now: I can say "No such file or directory" (Ingen saadan fil eller filkatalog) much more easily than I can say "Do you know of a nice restaurant in the neighborhood."
  • The demo insists on needing some plugin which
    doesn't exist. The last version is version 4
    and it requires version 8.
  • I am currently trying to learn Vietnamese as well, I have some software, but its been hard to find any programs for Vietnamese as it is not a very common language. I would have probably purchases this rosetta stone, had it worked in linux, but it doesn't :( I dislike having to go back into windows to run my language programs...
  • Et Shoeboy, petit garçon très mal élevé, sache que tu es sans manières, et pas très marrant non plus. Si tu veux utiliser babelfish, il vaut mieux que tu sois poli, parce que les insultes sont toujours familières, et ne se traduisent pas très bien. Ben, j'ai plus rien à dire, parce que je crois que tout le monde pensent deja que il est con...

    I translated this to english, and I'm a little worried about you.
    This is what the fish gave me:

    And Shoeboy, little boy with amazing buttocks, knows that I myself am thinking while touching of you. If you want to use babelfish, it is better that you are polished, because the sheen your skin intoxicating is. Ben, I have more anything to say, because I believe that everyone think already that he is beautiful...

    Wow, I guess it is true what they say about the french.
  • Actually that's an urban legend - often retold but not really true (brochures from tourist agencies notwithstanding.) No visiting scholar was struck by Cajun and recognized it for what it was, Cajun's anticedents, history, and influences have been well documented for a very long time. Even when Cajun was being supressed it was well known and studied by linguists.

    There's always been lots of communication between Cajun, it's parent Acadian, and with Quebecois and French-from-France. There was never any revelation that Acadian or it's derivitive Cajun were related to a dialect spoken historically in certain parts of France. Families retained ties, histories are well documented and of course there was always commercial & social interaction.

    By the way the same is true for English spoken in certain parts of the Canadian Maritimes. It's remains the closest to that spoken in parts of the UK in Shakespeare's time and there's been a great deal of study done to understand vowel-shifts etc. from historical times to present; much of it towards identifying exactly how Shakespear expected his iambic pentameter to sound.

    - Michael, who enjoys watching his Acadian friends and his Quebecois friends try and figure out exactly what belongs in a torttierre.

  • er...No. The most common _first_ language in Chinese, followed by Spanish. Including people who speak English as a secod/third/fourth/etc language, English is the most popular language. (Especially as popular indicates choice rather then being born into it)
  • this may trash what little karma i have... since no one in their right mind would moderate this up, (not that i have much..) but huh? I think that whether you should learn a language is based soley on how many people speak it. I think that every person is a whirlpool of knowledge and experience and a barrier between me and slowing down that whirlpool so i can see what it has to offer is language. I want to break as many barriers as possible. I am a "white-boy." I was born in Washington D.C. I speak chinese better than most of my chinese american friends. Maybe my motivations are not what yours are, but if I can connect to 1.2 billion more people, guess what? I am gonna do whatever i can to do so.

    One last note. I can read korean. I have no idea what it all means, but i can read it. Their alphabet is the most simplistic I have ever seen and it took me about two weeks to learn it. So, that leaves your list to; chinese.
  • When will all the littlesnot nosed twits keep thier collective mouths shut when someone asks an interesting question on Ask Slashdot?

    Perhaps, just perhaps, this is a topic that might have wide interest and that the question is worth asking. And perhaps the answers are worth reviewing as well.

  • We are all lazy at times aren't we, Specially with so many good souls on slashdot.
  • Okay, so you're an egg, good for you. You can speak chinese better than your ABC buds, this brings you closer to a billion people how? My point is, the "importance" of a language has everything to do with context, and not absolute numbers. If I was doing business in Europe I bet I could do pretty damn well with English and French. But if I was looking into manufacturing in Europe, then maybe I should pick up some German. In none of these cases would Chinese help. If I was doing business in Japan, then Mandarin wouldn't help much, would it?

    I bet your motivations are to pick up on Chinese girls - here's a tip: they don't like it when you try too hard.

  • First of all it's not *my* language minister since I'm a US citizen - please don't make assumptions.

    Secondly clearly you've never been to N. Africa, the Caribbean, Polynesia, etc. Indeed apparently you've never been outside Paris. French is spoken in all of these places and it's not your ideal-French either. Try Corsica sometime if you want 'different' French in France. Heck, even in Paris one finds a wide variety of French and again it's not all your dream-textbook French.

    As I tried to make clear there's as much variation in French as there is in English. The same as da boyz in da 'hood may use their own talk the fine folks in Gaspasia have Joile (sp?)

    French is a living language and contrary to the ideals of apparatchiks like Language Ministers (and apparently yourself) it's complicated, varied, and vibrant.

    Yes learning French in Montreal would leave someone with an accent that would make a Parisian cry (generally considered a good thing in most parts of the world outside Paris.) However it would no less be French and would no less be useful.

    I presume you speak English (as I know you write in it.) Is your accent the ideal you hold up? Would your voice be heard on a 1950's BBC World Service broadcast? Are your vowels properly rounded, your elocution studied and pronounced, your spoken structure direct out of a 1920's Oxford guide?

    If not then I think you have no point: you're debating class and culture not language.

  • RE: As I tried to make clear there's as much variation in French as there is in English. The same as da boyz in da 'hood may use their own talk the fine folks in Gaspasia have Joile (sp?)

    There's a point you're making which is a valid one- never try and confuse a given slang or idiomatic accent for a difference in language. The fact that they say "coquerelle" (cock-er-ell) rather than "cafard" (cafa) for cockroach isn't what I'm talking about. Joual is not what I consider French in any sense of the word, and I'm not comparing joual to french, nor the moé/moi (mow-ay/mow-aw: means "me") toé/toi (tow-ay/tow-aw: means "you")discrepancies in pronounciation, especially the grating "ouin" (whine like a baby through your nose) for "oui" (wee, "yes").

    However, in English, say "The magazine's you should of throne out" isn't proper English, no matter what the idiom, accent, slang, whatever. It's grammatically incorrect, stylistically horrible, and JUST PLAIN WRONG. And that is my problem with Quebecois French. It's a gutter pidgin of English and 17th century hick backwater French. It is what it is, it should be preserved, it's a language in and of itself, etc etc etc but in no way should you hold it up and say it's more French than what they speak in France.
  • What about trying to get a program that runs in windows runnning in Wine?
    If you look on the system requirments for programs, it sometimes tells you if you'll need Direct-X or not, since that is hard to set-up with wine. But there is alot of programs that don't need it, and would probably be just what you looking for, maybe even if you look on Wines site, you'll find where somebody elso already got one to work.
    (Also, you could try VMware, you get a 30day license for free, and every time you want a new license, just sign up for some hot-mail account for them to send you one)
  • Where you gettin' these numbers from?
  • yer I think it is Mandarin that's most popular.
  • by Thomas Miconi ( 85282 ) on Saturday January 13, 2001 @06:55AM (#510114)
    Vous êtes un morceau sans valeur de droppings de babboon. Votre posez la question de slashdot était le morceau d'abats le plus sans valeur sur lequel j'ai jamais étendu des yeux. Si je vous rencontre jamais je donnerai un coup de pied votre âne. Non, brouillon qui, je violera votre âne. Et vous l'apprécierez. Ayez un jour agréable.

    Here's a handmade translation of this obviously babelfished piece of text :

    1. You are a bit without value of droppings of babboon. Your ask the question of Slashdot was the bit of cut-downs the most without value on which I ever laid some eyes. If I meet you ever I will give a kick your donkey. No, draft who, I will rape your donkey. And you will appreciate it. Have a pleasant day.

    Glory to The Fish [] ! :o)

    Thomas Miconi
  • If you are looking for a good refresher on your French, I would suggest a bottle of a good WINE... perhaps a good Cabernet or Burgandy will fill your soul with a bit of the French culture
  • Couldn't have had to do with the roughly 800+ million more Mandarin speakers...
    Aaron Gaudio
    "The fool finds ignorance all around him.
  • The most important area I believe, where Linux lags behind Windows, is education software in general. This is more important in gaming if we want Linux to replace Windows in schools and Libraries. One of the major reasons I had to switch back to Windows was because my SAT Prep program and my AP History program only ran under Windows. I think that it would be in Linux's greatest interests if someone could convince a major education software company to port to KDE2 (which is ideal in that it already has an office suite and webbrowser). Only then would Linux really be able to compete in schools and libraries.

  • Of course not. In that case, there's be about 7 billion english speakers.

    For that matter, just being born and rasied in the U.S. doesn't mean that someone can speak english. One of my students actually used "gonna" on a test last semester . . .
  • While more people speak Mandarain as a first language, more people speak English (including second & third languages) than any other language.

    (OK, so those who speak it as a first language rarely speak a second, but that's another issue.)

  • Check out You can get language lessons through email or read them on the site. It doesn't replace a textbook, and definitely not immersion, but it does a pretty good job. An excellent language-learning companion. Downsides: you won't be able to hear the realaudio samples, requires registration *shrug*
    --we mock what we do not understand--

    Haven't tested it, but might be worth checking out.
  • I'm currently learning Vietnamese using Rosetta Stone, and find it to be absolutely first rate. It's implemented in Flash, I think, so getting it running under Linux might be possible. The system teaches you language behaviouristically: there's no grammar lessons or suchlike. You just get thrown right in at the deep end. You fire up the program and straight away you hear someone say something in the language you're trying to learn. You then have to click on the picture which corresponds to what they've said. After no time at all you'll realise you're learning words and grammar without knowing how you're doing it. Brilliant! And some lessons involve speech recognition: the system compares your intonation with an ideal sample and gives you a rating.

    There's a Flash demo of the system online at [] which allows you to select French or several other languages (lots of them, actually, including Swahili, Japanese, Arabic, Welsh, Hebrew, Latin, French, German and Italian). Trying the demo in your native language (such as US English) is fun!

    I'm not sure whether it's possible to get the online demo running under Linux. I'm convinced, however, that a Linux version would be feasible, and that the immersive learning system is the best way to learn a second language. Sometimes (quite often, actually) the simplest ideas are the best.

    Oh, I should say that one drawback with the software is that it's expensive. But no more expensive than a year of lessons would be, and more effective in my opinion.

  • Yes, you can run WINE without a Windows installation -- though reliability sometimes suffers without the native DLLs to fall back on. As for installing new software, just run the installers -- WINE has supported most installers for (around) the last 4-6 months.
  • Actually, DirectX doesn't require any extra setup at all -- you must be thinking of Direct3D, or OpenGL. I doubt that any translation software would use either.

    Regarding VMWare, its performance suffers somewhat on media-intensive apps. Win4Lin, while faster in most situations, also bogs down quite heavily when some graphics-related API functions are called.
  • Sound capture is supported for software using the winmm DLL, but not DirectSound. Thus, it depends on the software.
  • That, and there's always WINE, which is improving as it ages..
  • A quick search for "language teaching" revealed: LingoTeach [].
  • by phr1 ( 211689 )
    There are many Linux IRC clients, and many French-language IRC channels. Hang out on them and talk to people. But really though, language learning is best done in face to face conversations with real humans, not with computers, not with tape recordings, not with telephones. Your best bet is to either go to France for a while, or sign up for an intensive language class where you live. The person who posted that going to Montreal doesn't count is pretty much correct. The dialect there is very weird. I speak enough French to converse (not fluently) with French people and can read French ok, but can't understand a thing anyone says in Quebec. There are a lot of French tourists there, and they have an easier time than I do, but it's hard for them too. It's like the difference between London English and Texas English.
  • by SmokeSerpent ( 106200 ) <<benjamin> <at> <>> on Saturday January 13, 2001 @03:15AM (#510129) Homepage

    Do I lack the ability to perform even the most basic research on my own?

    Tommorrow's 'Ask Slashdot':

    Will someone please help me answer this C++ programming class assignment?

  • Adrian Robert of UCSD has created Hanzim, a truly excellent tutor for people learning to read written Chinese. Hanzim is GPLd and has a nice GUI in Tcl/Tk 8.1.

    I think the Hanzim project is an outstanding achievement. I wouldn't be surprised if the author starts getting a lot of press recognition for his work, and also one of the Free Software Awards [] for educational software. Afterall, he has created, with some help, a dictionary with over 6000 individual Chinese characters and over 18000 Chinese character combinations, each with English translations as well as a cross-referenced Chinese radical lookup facility.

    The software is downloadable from Robert's Hanzim directory [] (

    As a footnote, there is, of course, plenty of good commercial Chinese language tutorial software but Hanzim, uniquely, is under the GPL.

    -- William

  • Kill the frogs!! Kill the frog!!

  • Hanzim [], the Chinese character tutor, is also very good for learning the Japanese Kanji characters and multi-character combinations, which are based on traditional Chinese characters. Hanzim doesn't help with learning the Katakana or Hiragana, which are alphabetic not ideographic, but the alphabetic characters are simple to learn. There is also no Japanese pronunciation provided although it'd be easy to add to Hanzim's database.

  • First of all I don't particularly care what you consider and don't consider a language.

    Second I don't know what axe you're trying to grind but nowhere did I "hold it up and say it's more French than what they speak in France."

    You keep setting up straw-men and then tearing them down. I'm sure it's entertaining but aside from any masturbatory joy you're getting out of this it's a poor form of rhetoric and in this case neither impressive or useful.

    I'd also recommend you stop trying to imply these straw-men are from anyone other then from yourself and strive for a bit of intellectual honesty.

    I did point out that even in France, and indeed in Paris folks don't live in the linguistic purity you seem to be obsessing about. You can go from there wherever you want but please don't credit me for your words or ideas.

    Finally, as I noted before you're debating class & culture and apparently now aesthetics. Aside from my own feeling that's a particularly pointless effort it's also not one I give a damn about. You're welcome to your ivory tower, I've more interesting things to do with folks both more entertaining and more honest.


  • You might also be interested in learning written Chinese using a really excellent Chinese character tutor called "Hanzim" which is free GPLd software -- ~I posted more information about Hanzim here. []

  • RE: First of all I don't particularly care what you consider and don't consider a language.

    Let's look at the original post, shall we? You're losing sight of the original context

    "Once upon a time, long, long, ago, I took some French classes in high school. I had to drop them, eventually, to provide more time for silly engineering courses, but now I want to get to back to learning the language a bit. Obviously, the best approach is to move up to Montreal"

    Montreal is a mostly English-speaking city, and what French is spoken there is a gutter dialect. Just as how I wouldn't suggest anyone interested in learning English to hang around a bunch of illiterates in a lube shop in Tennessee, or listen to hip-hop lyrics in full-bore Ebonics, I wouldn't recommend anyone with a desire to learn classical French to go learn that "toi" is pronounced "touain".

    RE: Second I don't know what axe you're trying to grind but nowhere did I "hold it up and say it's more French than what they speak in France."

    You didn't - that evil cow Louise whatsername, the minister of Language Purity, did. She went over to France to protest their lack of Frenchness, which I find rich.

    RE: Finally, as I noted before you're debating class & culture and apparently now aesthetics.

    Look, if you want to learn French, whatever it is now, go to France. If you want to learn Quebecois joual, go to Quebec. But don't pretend languages are what they aren't, OK? Thanks. Good bye.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Saturday January 13, 2001 @03:24AM (#510136) Homepage Journal
    ok. I asked this question to someone I knew who was doing research into speech recognision of Cantonese. Apparently Cantonese is very easy for a computer to recognise - much more so than english -- and see that it is the most popular language in the world, I wouldn't mind learning it. So my question to this person was: If they computer can recognise speech then couldn't I learn to speak Cantonese with a text only Cantonese -> English translator? So imagine the process goes like this: The computer plays a sample in Cantonese. I grunt at the screen and the computer tries to recognise what I am saying. Whatever the hell it gets, it translates to english and displays back to me, along with an original (manual) translation of the original sample. I listen to the sample again and repeat and repeat until the computer can understand what I am saying. So now, the real question is, if the computer can understand what I am saying, will native speakers of Cantonese understand what I am saying? or will I just find all the bugs in the speech recognision software and the Cantonese -> English translator?
  • i don't try too hard... it is just the way i am. (i was raised in china)

    as for an egg... maybe..

    The chinese girls are a bonus though. :)
  • good point about korean. but i guess i can not read english either since it is not uncommon for me to mispronouce something because it is an exception. As far as I can tell, korean doesn't have as many exceptions as english does.

    not to give any details -- but no just because their skin is golden doesn't mean that i think they should speak chinese, it is when their parents still speak it as their dominant language and that is what i hear when i call them on the phone that i beleive that their chinese should be (and usually is) admirable.

    just as a side note: i do not want to come off as "too puffed up." my humble apologies if i did so.

    one last note -- i was raised in china, so I know what a chinese-american family is and a chinese-turned-american family is... (again, i do not want to sound puffed up, but i was to show that i am not naive - at least not too naive)
  • English is the one of the best speaked langs

    I would like to use that line as my next Slashdot signature. Would you object?
  • Reading it's description it appears to be a testing program more then a teaching program.
  • Maybe an interesting question might be, "which language has the greatest number of non-native speakers?" While Mandarin (probably) has the largest number of native speakers, I suspect that it is probably quite a way down the list of second/third etc languages.
  • I assure you that I am an American.
    As has been posted elsewhere [], I'm in seattle.
  • for my french class we use in conjunction with the book an interactive cd put out with the book... Alles Viens! []
    i find it to help (if u want 2 run it under linux u will have 2 run wine, sorry) ttfn...
  • I'd hate to sound mean so early in the morning....
    But maybe "ask slashdot" should be renamed to "ask slashdot users to type something in for me".

  • But that would really make Mandarin aesthetically inferior, not linguistically inferior... Of course, I know no Cantonese and only a bit of Mandarin, so I'm not the most qualified person to speak about the two.
  • by egon ( 29680 )

    Set nls to french. You'll either learn it or die of frustration. 8)

    Give a man a match, you keep him warm for an evening.
  • Actually, it would be cool to have a babelfish-esque command "french" or "spanish" or "pig-latin" or whatever. You could pipe a message that is run through that program into an e-mail program or the like and, assuming you improve the translation capability beyond that of babelfish, have seamless interlingual communication - dynamically translated into the reciever's language. It would be relatively simple to program the main part of it, but the individual translation engines would be really difficult (for example, what's the best way to translate? Language 1 -> English -> Language 2, Language 1 -> Esperanto -> Language 2, etc). It would seem easiest to make a common intermediate language since then you'd only have to make a single translation logic for each included language. I wish I had a clue about language beyond introductory Spanish because I'd be all over this. Something like this that is open source (can be included in other applications) would have serious implications in the global business/education community.
  • The french you learn in Montreal is not actually french, its franglais. The Quebecois version of french is so full of slang and poor everything that it is convievable they would be missunderstood by someone from France. Trust me, I live accros the river from them.
  • I just installed Linux on my other computer, and decided to make everything I could in Croatian, so I could learn it faster. I compare with this computer when I don't know exactly what's going on. Once I learn Croatian well, I'll probably get on to translating everything that wasn't translated (some man pages, itd). It's pretty easy, once you get over the fact that you're not reading in English anymore, and it's a nice immersion that you just don't get from reading "Na Cesti" by Jack Kerouac (although "Na Cesti" does give you really good street slang, as it is a direct translation.)
  • low tech vs high tech
    both can be justified, it only depend on the environment.
    lots of people can't be bothered taking classes, but wish to learn a few phrases and basics of a particular language. also to be concidered is that many people are more comfortable starting with basics on their own (remember those learning tapes for the cars, learning by mail classes etc - quite popular starting point). some of us feel better about getting on with the basics on our own in a relaxed environment where we are not afraid of being embarrased etc. Getting started is the most important step on the road.

    so what I am getting at, these apps for learning, in a quiet environment is sometimes pretty good to have. I am looking forward to see this development coming on for the unixes.
    ..a side effect could be that the development could also be used in the development of voice recognition and voice control featured user interface where appropriate etc..

    hope someone out there listens..

  • There is no such thing as American English. There is English, American, and British, in my proofreader software but no such thing as American english. Is American english, American mixed with English. From what I know English is internationalized version of the language of Brittish.


    -No Fishy babels where used to create this comment.

  • I live in the wild wild east, I comunicate English, Slovak, Czech, Russian, Polish, and little German. I am not proud of it at all. Scary multilanguage world. Western folk, please DO NOT LEARN this lesser languages(!), English is the one of the best speaked langs and written words are definitelly the best I know, so leave all those ugly easten langs in dust and world will be happy. All eastern nations learn english these days wait a few years and all EU will speak english. ps: best software learning package -> no package, precise your english
  • What is this obsession with Linux anyway? Concentrate on the software and not the operating system!
  • At least not as far as I know. I work for a language learning company [] and by and large there's not a huge market at all for language software, let alone under specific OS'. We've done primarily Win32 and Mac stuff, but I'd say the two biggest reasons are (1) by and large linux doesn't have a strong enough place in the "common household" (our biggest market) and (2) if under linux it would generally be understood that the company would make little money for the work, which just doesn't fly, simply because of the sheer size of the undertaking (you go ahead and master different discs of English speakers learning French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Irish, Chinese, Russian. Making *one* distro would probably be more feasible, but a total of 13 separate discs for one product is a bit tougher) I guess the main thing would lead to cost, since every language tool we make (including machine translation []) is made by us, we need to balance costs somehow, I'm assuming other companies are the same way.

  • I love listening to Radio-Canada on the Internet ("Vous ecouteza la premiere chaine de Radio-Canada, en direct, sur Internet"). One of the better radio stations I've found to listen to, here in Austin, TX.

    And, aside from the occasional late-night student dj tossing around the odd English phraseology, it sounds pretty clean and pure to my Anglophone ears.

  • The Demo is Shockwave, not Flash. Don't bother trying from linux.
  • I'm from Louisiana, and many folks from France say the same thing about the Cajun French.

    Until one day a French scholar happened by the University, happened to overhear a conversation, and excitedly demanded to know how they'd learned 17th century French dialect from the northern provinces so well (his specialty apparently was 17th century folk literature of that area).

    Point being -- North American French is French. It's a dialect of French that once was spoken in France but has since largely died out there, and it's a dialect of French that has to a certain extent migrated in different directions due to being surrounded by English-speakers, but it's French. My father served on sub tenders during the Korean War, and whenever the ship needed somebody to talk with the French (they were poking around in Indochina at the time), they'd haul him off of his usual duties and put him to work as a translater. It was no more disconcerting than trying to put a Southern USA English type talking to a BBC London English type, where the USA type wonders why the other is talking about pretty girls, and the BBC type is wondering why the USA type is talking about using hand carts for transporting troops and supplies. (Sorry, "truck" vs. "lorrie").


  • Obviously posted by an American. Can't tell the difference between ass and arse.

    That's not a shot at American's in general

  • Tell Yahoo Auctions you are a French user,... wait, don't.
  • So, I'll buy the very best Magnesium Alloy wheels for my car. Totally disregarding the fact that they have five stud holes and my undercarriage has four studs (per wheel).

    Go and fill your automobile up with diesel fuel. Diesel is cheaper.

    Got the point?

  • The most popular language in the world is Chinese.
    The second most popular language in the world is Spanish. English ranks in at number three and is hardly limited to "americian english".
  • [] is a very nice web-based learning site. So it would be OS independent. I know a few people that have used it, they say it is real easy to learn.
    I'm a karma whore, mod me up damn you!
  • Instead of using some commercial software and wasting your time, simply join a Linux development project headed by Frenchmen and learn by immersion on the email list :)
  • WINE has supported most installers for (around) the last 4-6 months.

    Watch the EULA. Several Microsoft programs (such as Internet Explorer) come with a "Supplemental EULA" that states, in effect, "If you are not installing this on a genuine licensed installation of Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition, Microsoft Windows NT, or Microsoft Windows 2000 (hereinafter "Windows Family OS"), you have no rights under this EULA and may not install the Software.

    Like Tetris? Like drugs? Ever try combining them? []
  • Wow! I have never been this impressed with language software. It works 10x better than any other website I have seen. I am thinking of actually buying the Latin and Spanish... They are quite reasonable.
  • I think you mistake speech recognition with translation. If you get some English gibberish from the machine, that doesn't mean your Cantonese was flawed. Or if, you don't know what the problem was: Was it the pronounciation, the grammar? Which part of the grammar? What did you pronounce wrong? And are you sure the translation would be perfect? Or that your Cantonese would sound natural?
    I don't think you would get anywhere with this method. For the above reasons, and because it would just take too long. Get a decent book and a few tapes, and you will probably get further much faster. And if you spend less time on /., you can invest that into learning the language, too ;-)
  • yeah I got Tripleplay Plus French (I think it's called Smart Start now or something lke that), but it came as a freebie with a magazine, and no instructions. The entire disk was in French, which adds to the immersion I guess, but like you say, it is cute. I only wish it was the German version.
  • How about Correcteur 101 []
    Correcteur 101 is a French grammar checker that provides a complete grammatical analysis of a sentence. It analyzes, explains, and corrects grammatical and spelling errors.
    It's not a educational program, but it should be able to help you get on you way.
  • American English?
    I thought we were trying to prevent illiteracy, not promote it? ;p~

    "The good thing about Alzheimer's is that you can hide your own Easter eggs."

  • i am just curious as to how you figure Madarin is not valuable to learn...
  • Most of the language learning software I have used is really unacceptable, and this includes software (for Mac and Windows) at university. Then again, the software I have has been cheap and you get what you pay for. I was so fed up with the unusefulness of the software, I decided to spend money at university and learn the language. I think I have only had the fortunate experience ofusing one piece of useful software for German (for Power Mac), which accomapnies the text I was using however I couldn't purchase the software myself, I think it must have come with the instructors edition or something.

    One of the things I am surprised about with the multimedia explosion is that language learning software has only gotten glossier, but anot anymore useful.

  • One way to learn about french is by reading things in French. All worthwhile software is usually released with French translations:

    Debian []
    GNU []

    But of course if you don't know any French this won't help. You can however, check out this tutorial [].

  • by Croaker ( 10633 ) on Saturday January 13, 2001 @05:51AM (#510174)

    Hey! It's simple! Just type a whole lot of phrases into Babelfish and read the results. What could go wrong? Soon, you'll be speaking like this:

    Bonjour, monsieur! Je suis un nerd! Je voudrais savoir ou je pourrais trouver une connexion de reseau et un beaucoup rapides de cafe, s'il vous plait!*

    It's that simple. Heck! Get a wireless connection, and you can par-lee-voo anywhere you want!

    *Hello, Mister! I am a nerd! I would like to know where I could find a connection of network and much fast of coffee, please!
  • Heh.. I dont know if I'm that bored. Yes.. it would be good to have that sort of feedback from the computer too. One of the methods that I have heard is most effective is you get a native speaker of the language you want to learn and do the following:

    [some sentence in their language]
    [attempt to repeat the sentence]
    [repeat what the student said]
    [repeat what the sentence is supposed to be]

    The third step is very important because you generally have no idea what you have said wrong. Hearing what you said and what you were supposed to say makes it easier to learn. Once you have done a lot of this you can start learning vocab and grammar. These steps could be done by a computer mechanically. But it is also good to have the native speaker say "yer, that's close enough, now we can move on", which is where the speech recognision would come in.
  • by Shoeboy ( 16224 ) on Saturday January 13, 2001 @03:51AM (#510193) Homepage
    Vous êtes un morceau sans valeur de droppings de babboon. Votre posez la question de slashdot était le morceau d'abats le plus sans valeur sur lequel j'ai jamais étendu des yeux. Si je vous rencontre jamais je donnerai un coup de pied votre âne. Non, brouillon qui, je violera votre âne. Et vous l'apprécierez. Ayez un jour agréable.
  • by eGabriel ( 5707 ) on Saturday January 13, 2001 @03:55AM (#510196) Homepage
    Just badly worded. Questions like this often ferret out software authors that have been working on something, but were too shy to release until such a demand came along. Also, sometimes along the way people email one another within the discussion in order to collaborate and make such a piece of software possible.

    Best to interpret the question as "I can't believe that this is all of the language software that exists for un*x! Anyone out there working on something?"

    I gotta say, y'all complain too much.
  • Hey good point. And I think it is Mandarin over Cantonese that is number one.

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein