Read for pleasure and super‑fast language acquisition

Introducing Shelves

November 16, 2015 by Steve - Comments

This one’s a biggie, and has taken a while to implement.

Earlier this year I added some improvements to My Texts. But after receiving feedback from some of the most prolific sharers of content on Readlang, it was clear that more organization was required.

My Texts

Here’s the new My Texts page:

New My Texts Page

Browse Selector


Select the section to browse:


You’ll notice that there’s now a search box on the right allowing you to quickly locate texts based on their title or the author name.

Search Personal Texts

Arrange On Shelves

Arranging Texts on Shelves

Select some of your texts by clicking on the checkboxes at the left of each table row, and then click the Arrange on shelves… button to see the following controls:

These allows you to add new shelves, and to add and remove selected texts from shelves.

Perform Actions on Texts

Other Actions

Select some texts and click Actions to alter their read status, share them, or delete them.

Edit a Shelf

Browse to a specific shelf and you’ll see the shelf editing interface:

Edit Shelf

Re-Arrange Shelves

Re-order Texts Within a Shelf

You can click on the title or description to edit them. And you can use the handles to the left of each text to re-arrange them:

Share Shelves

Share Publicly

Click on the Share Publicly checkbox to share this shelf, along with all its associated texts.

Once public, you can share the Shareable Link allowing others to open the public view of that shelf.

Public View Of Shelf

(For now these shelves aren’t listed anywhere on Readlang, but you can share the link however you like. After enough shelves have been shared, I’ll think about adding a public listing of shared shelves.)

I hope you enjoy these new features. As always, please let me know if you have any feedback.

Happy language learning!

PS: Only Premium users can create shelves. This was an easy decision for private shelves since only heavy users will require them for organization. Public shelves may become free in future, but I’m restricting them to paying users for now since it will greatly reduce the risk of people posting spam in the shelf descriptions.


Spanish Immersion Homepage - Chrome Extension

November 9, 2015 by Steve - Comments

Have you ever felt that Chrome’s new tab page is a massive productivity sink? It tempts you with your most visited pages. Facebook, Gmail, Reddit – procrastination central. It wastes your time with watching innane viral videos and derails your train of thought. This extension takes over the new tab page to encourage browsing the web in Spanish. If you’re going to be distracted, don’t fight it, use it to your advantage!

Spanish Immersion Homepage Get the Spanish Immersion Homepage extension on the Chrome Web Store

It’s very simple, and contains:

This was inspired by the excellent Momentum extension.

Useful? Would love to hear your thoughts!


Keep your books, articles and videos organized

October 14, 2015 by Steve - Comments

If you read a lot, you’ll appreciate the need to keep your language learning library in order. Readlang helps you by organizing your texts and videos into the following categories:

Private Texts Redesign

  1. Reading queue Texts you are currently reading, or waiting to read.
  2. Completed texts Celebrate your victories! Browse through this list and feel pround of what you’ve accomplished. The great part is, if you choose an old text to re-read, it will remind you how far you’ve progressed, as you breeze though a text you were previously struggling with.
  3. Abandoned texts Like Trash on Mac, or Recycle Bin on Windows, Abandoned texts will stay here until you decide to clear them out. I encourage you to abandon texts that are too difficult and move on to something more enjoyable. If you’re anything like me it’ll be hard to admit defeat, but often finding an easier, more interesting, or more enjoyable text will motivate you to learn faster.
  4. Shared texts All texts you shared publicly with the Readlang community will be listed here.

I hope you enjoy these features. If you have any comments or suggestions please make use of the Feedback Forum.

Remember that building regular habits is the key to successful learning, so keep reading and practicing a little every day!

PS: This was launched back in June, but I was so busy working on other features I forgot to announce them on the blog. Oh well, better late than never!


Speaking mode

October 6, 2015 by Steve - Comments

Speaking and listening skills are an extremely important for learning a language. Readlang already has plenty of YouTube videos for you to practice listening. Songs have proved to be a favorite:

Je Veux

To complement this, you can now enable Speaking Mode. This provides automatic text-to-speech when you click a word or phrase in any text, and when reviewing your flashcards, Readlang will pronounce the word or phrase as it is revealed.

Enable speaking mode via the Settings page:

Settings - Speaking Mode

These features are available to Readlang Premium subscribers only. Go Premium for only $5/month or $48/year.

Works for the following 17 langauges: Catalan, Danish, German, English, Spanish, Finnish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Chinese.

It works on and the Web Reader on desktop and Android Chrome. On iOS it only works on


To translate or not? Monolingual mode arrives

September 30, 2015 by Steve - Comments

There are few topics more divisive among language learners than the question of translation. Is translating a bad habit? Should learners stop as soon as possible? Whatever your opinion, Readlang can now help.

From today, you can disable translations and access monolingual definitions.

Translations On (default)

Translations On

This is the way Readlang is typically used - unobtrusive translations are provided in the text itself, with the option of extra translations in the sidebar dictionary.

Translations Off (monolingual option for advanced learners)

To turn off translations and go monolingual, click on the little arrow so that it turns to a cross. The box representing your first language will be greyed out and the sidebar dictionary will show definitions in the language you are learning:

Translations Off

In the background, Readlang will still translate these words in order to prepare flashcards for you to review later.

Customizing your monolingual dictionaries

You can now define two different custom dictionaries for each language that you are studying, a monolingual one and a bilingual one. Many of the languages have pre-defined dictionaries, for other suggestions see a guide to online dictionaries on Fluent in 3 Months.

Add your own favorite monolingual or bilingual dictionary from the settings page:

Custom Dictionary Settings

Web Reader

The monolingual mode works within the Web Reader just the same way - click the little arrow in the Web Reader toolbar to toggle between translation and monolingual mode. The monolingual definitions will be displayed in an external pop-up window. (On some browsers the pop-up may not appear at first, in this case, click Menu -> Open Dictionary to see it, it will then update on each subsequent lookup.)

Give it a try

The translation mode is still the main attraction of Readlang, with the new monolingual mode as an alternative when you feel like more of a challenge. So which is more effective - to translate or not to translate? Try both ways and decide for yourself.

Please leave feedback in the comments below.


New Activity Monitor to encourage a daily language learning habit

September 10, 2015 by Steve - Comments

The main reason people fail at learning a language is not showing up to practice every day. Effective language learners manage to incorporate the language into their lives on a regular basis, they form daily habits. Having a job where you must speak the language is ideal, but most of us need to find other ways to squeeze practice into our busy lives.


Turn your favorite novel into a motivating and effective language learning tool

July 5, 2015 by Steve - Comments

If you enjoy reading novels, and wish to learn a second language, then you’re in luck, since reading can form a highly motivating and effective way for you to absorb the grammar, vocabulary and culture of a language.


Learn a language while you surf - training wheels for browsing the web in French, Spanish, German + 50 other languages

June 5, 2015 by Steve - Comments

Entranced while browsing the web

The best way to learn a language is to form productive habits, and what easier habit to form than browsing the web? Turn your addiction into a powerfull learning tool with the redesigned Web Reader.

New Web Reader design


Chapters and Rich Formatting

April 15, 2015 by Steve - Comments

Based on your feedback, Readlang has become a fully fledged eReader with the addition of chapter navigation, as well as bold and italics:


Auto Highlight Words As You Read

March 17, 2015 by Steve - Comments

Context is key when learning language. Wouldn’t it be nice to access previous contexts you’ve seen a word in every time you encounter it in a new text?

Based on popular demand, I’ve added the ability to auto-highlight words you’ve previously translated as they appear in new texts. Clicking on any of these underlined words will trigger a pop up showing the translation along with previous contexts.


New Translation Glossing Mode

March 8, 2015 by Steve - Comments

Readlang’s main feature is inline word and phrase translation, as seen here in the Web Reader:


My Favorite Tools For Learning Spanish

November 28, 2014 by Steve - Comments

The best way to learn to speak Spanish is to just speak Spanish. Ideally with native Spanish speakers. But there’s also a lot you can do completely independently, and these are some of my favourite methods of self-study.

By the way, although I’ve focussed on Spanish, these methods are applicable for many languages.

1. Michel Thomas

This is a great place to start. It gives you a really good feel for the grammar, getting you to construct quite complex sentences from the very start, which really gets you motivated with the feeling of rapid progress. The format is unusual in that there are two other students on the CD who are learning alongside you and who will often fumble through an answer to be corrected firmly by Michel. It sounds strange but it really works. As with most language learning CDs, it’s best to actively participate, pausing after each question and speaking the answer aloud, or in your head, before listening to the student’s and Michel’s responses.

After finishing this course you should have developed a really good intuitive feel for the structure of the language, but will still have a very limited vocabulary.


8 Reasons You Should Read More (includes waffles)

May 28, 2014 by Steve - Comments
Selfie of myself reading at the lab. Note the professional Readlang logo in the background ;-)

I’m already addicted to reading in my native language of English. As a child I would read computer magazines cover to cover, as a teenager I started reading novels like The Andromeda Strain, and now as a guy who works at a computer all day long, even when working I’m habitually reading blogs, forums, wikipedia articles, news sites, you name it! So when I decided to learn Spanish, it was only natural to make reading the foundation, and reading in Spanish is now my core daily language learning habit. Here are 8 benefits:


Tips to take charge of your vocabulary learning

April 23, 2014 by Steve - Comments

Readlang now has a powerful new Words page:

This is a flexible tool to manage your vocabulary, whether you’re a hardcore language geek or simply looking for new ways to speed up your learning. Bear in mind that none of this is necessary to use Readlang, which you can very happily do using only the Library and Learn pages. The Words page is a great addition for those who want to take a more hands-on approach to their vocabulary learning.

Here are some useful tips for making the most of the Words page:


Are some people naturally better at learning languages?

April 19, 2014 by Steve - Comments

I just read a fascinating article about the development of Hi-LAB, the “High Level Language Aptitude Battery” test designed to help the US military identify individuals with high language learning potential. It was borne out of a frustration with seeing so many language professionals getting ‘stuck’ at basic proficiency and not progressing to become fluent. After some research, CASL (Center for the Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland) concluded that the following three traits were linked to language learning success:


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