May 142012
Chrome Language Immersion browser plug-in

The web is, of course, a limitless source of authentic reading material for students of Chinese (not to mention other languages). But only quite advanced students can read most unadapted web pages. So there has been a fair amount of excitement online (Lifehacker, Engadget, EdSurge newsletter) about a plug-in for the Google Chrome browser called Language Immersion for Chrome that aims to turn any webpage into level-appropriate reading material for language students. Well, that may be overstating its goals; perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the plug-in lets you work some language study into your regular web browsing. Once installed, you start from a page in English (for example) and at the click of a button, the plug-in translates some words and phrases into the language of your choice (including either simplified or traditional Chinese). The number of words/phrases translated into the target language is determined by a setting matched to … [read more]

Mar 292012
OCR Chinese with Sciweavers i2OCR

Sciweavers i2OCR is another free online service that can OCR image files in a number of languages, including traditional and simplified Chinese (see the post on using Google Docs to OCR Chinese); no sign up is required. A pdf has to be converted to an image file before it can be uploaded. Sciweavers provides another online tool to do this (follow the instructions on the i2OCR page), but I’ve also just opened a pdf in Preview (the default Mac pdf/image viewer) and exported it as a jpg. Once the OCR is complete, you’ll see a download icon plus a selectable text area containing the editable text next to an image of your scan. The download button saves a file with a .doc suffix. There’s something peculiar about the doc, though, because neither Pages nor Google Docs could open it, although TextEdit did. Sciweavers OCR is noticeably slower than Google Docs; one page … [read more]

Mar 252012
OCR Chinese with Google Docs

A previous post showed how to OCR Chinese texts using Adobe Acrobat Pro (OCRing is the process of recognizing text in an uneditable file, like a scan, and making it editable). While it works quite well, Acrobat Pro is a fairly expensive commercial product. The free Google Docs has the ability to OCR uploaded pdfs and image files in a number of languages, including both traditional and simplified Chinese. You enable it in the upload settings by clicking the upload icon, choosing Settings, then checking “Convert text …” Once you have it enabled, when you upload a pdf (or image with text), you can select the language of the source file. Google Docs saves the editable text together with the source file in your account. A multi-page pdf is saved with the editable text interleaved between the pages. This makes it impossible to select all the editable text at once for pasting into a clean … [read more]

Feb 262012
Hanlexon online study aids

Hanlexon is a website offering a number of tools for the study of Chinese. All of the tools are used with “worksheets” that you create first. A worksheet is essentially a set of characters. It can be an actual text with punctuation, or just a list of characters (e.g. 50 most frequent). Worksheets can be organized into “lessons” and “classes.” One feature of Hanlexon, namely its ability to generate PDFs for practicing writing hanzi, is called the “writing” tool and was reviewed in an earlier post in comparison with a similar web-based tool, Hanzi Grids. This post will cover the other features of Hanlexon. The “reading” tool can turn the content of your worksheet into a PDF with the option of adding pinyin as a phonetic guide above the hanzi, creating an annotated (or ruby) version. The “reading” tool can also display the content of the worksheet right in the … [read more]

Sep 042011

The last couple of posts have been for the absolute beginners, especially the students that I know are using the textbook Integrated Chinese published by Cheng & Tsui, so I thought I would do a post highlighting ready-made resources for that textbook series. If you know of others, please leave a comment. The website yellowbridge.com has online flashcards and a memory game for the third edition. In addition to the flashcards and memory game, for the first/second editions, there are also Word docs of the texts, with audio (the one that I checked opened in Pages for the Mac just fine; once saved as a Pages file, the audio worked in Pages for iOS too). I discussed the website hskflashcards.com in an earlier post, but I wanted to highlight the fact that in addition to the online flashcard tool, the site has a downloads section where you can find files in … [read more]