Readlang Blog

Read for pleasure and super‑fast language acquisition

58 New Languages Just Landed! All with Explain Support!

June 6, 2024 by Steve

This is a great day if you happen to be learning one of the 58 languages listed below, many of which are quite obscure and not well served by language learning apps. Readlang has added support for all of them, bringing total supported languages to 119, and what’s more all languages now come with Readlang’s Explain feature.

What does this mean?


Review Summaries

May 22, 2024 by Steve - Comments

Do you ever find yourself drifting off within a story and wondering what just happened? Like “wait… did John die?… he just sleeping?… what exactly is going on here!?” Well, Readlang now has a handy feature for you: Review Summaries! These are short summaries sprinkled throughout the text so that if ever feel lost, you can check you’re at least getting the gist and not missing some important plot point.


Introducing Read-Aloud

September 28, 2023 by Steve - Comments

I’m excited to introduce a new feature: you can now listen to entire texts uploaded to Readlang with synchronzied word highlighting! This uses your browser’s built-in text-to-speech functionality so which languages are supported will depend upon your device and browser.

If your browser supports it, you will now see a Play/Pause button at the bottom of the reader page, and when you click it, you’ll hear a voice speaking the whole text, with the current word highlighted:

Read Aloud: play button    Read Aloud: playing


Improvements to the reading interface

July 4, 2023 by Steve - Comments

This is a small update, but it addresses a couple of things which have bugged me about Readlang’s reading interface for a while.

Before, the page navigation UI felt clunky to me:


Now, it looks like this:


The difference may seem subtle, but it changes these three things:

  1. The “jump to furthest read” button used to be right next to the “next page” button. You had to be careful to make sure you were tapping the right one, particularly on mobile. In the new version, the next page button has a larger hit area and is easy to tap without fear of accidentally hitting the “jump to furthest read” button, which is now accessible by tapping on the progress percentage.
  2. The arrows in the margins were there to indicate that you can tap the side of the page to navigate. Although informative, having so many arrows on the page made it feel cluttered. In the new version you can still tap on the margins to change page but the extra arrows are no longer shown.
  3. For shorter texts, the percentage is now just a single number instead of a range, which I think looks cleaner. One of the goals of this reading interface is to be distraction free.

The “go to start” and “go to furthest read” options now accessible by clicking on the percentage at the bottom, which will show the following popup:

Navigation popup


Context-Aware Explanations (Smart Definitions V2)

June 27, 2023 by Steve - Comments

It’s been 3 months since I added Context-Aware Explanations (previously known as Smart Definitions) to Readlang. I’ve had great feedback about this feature so far! Here’s a small sample:

You can access it from the reader page by opening the sidebar in a supported language. Here’s how it looks:

Context Aware Explaination


The Key To Learning Anything

June 27, 2023 by Steve - Comments

If you want to learn or make progress on something, then turning it into a daily habit is about the most powerful way to do that. Much has been written on this topic, but the one that stuck for me is The Seinfeld Strategy: “Your only job is to not break the chain”.

Readlang has had a streak feature for the past few years, but two things bugged me about it:

  1. It wasn’t very visible, so it wasn’t obvious when I’d achieved your goal, and because it wasn’t that prominently displayed, it wasn’t something I cared about that much.
  2. The reading component of the old daily goal was based on the number of words you’d translated. I didn’t like that it was based on the number of words you translated rather than the number of words you actually read.

This changed a few weeks ago with the new streak feature which, if you’re a regular Readlang user, you’ll probably have noticed already! Here’s how it works:

At the top right of the page you’ll notice a flame icon with a number next to it:

New streak


Delete Flashcards While Reading

June 9, 2023 by Steve - Comments

For a long time, learners on Readlang have been asking for an easy way to control which words get converted into flashcards and now it finally exists!

You can now enable “delete on deselect” in which words and phrases will be deleted from your account simply by clicking an extra time to hide them.

Delete on untranslate


Smart Definitions

March 23, 2023 by Steve - Comments

Using an external dictionary in the Readlang sidebar is very useful for those times when the simple translation doesn’t quite cut it. But the quality of the different external dictionaries varies a lot, some of them have stopped working within Readlang, and the problem with all of them is that they aren’t aware of the context around the word or phrase you’re translating.

Smart Definitions in Spanish


Readlang Is Back!

February 22, 2023 by Steve - Comments

Wait? Readlang is back? Where did it go? Well, in one sense it never went anywhere, it’s been helping people learn languages by reading since 2013. But in 2016 I went to work at Duolingo (read more), and in 2017 I sold Readlang to them. I really enjoyed my time at Duolingo and worked on some cool stuff there including Duolingo Stories, but unfortunately Readlang stagnated. Luckily for you and I, the good people at Duolingo have sold Readlang back to me!


The Readlang Method for Learning Vocab

January 21, 2016 by Steve - Comments

I found vocabulary to be the most intimidating part of learning a foreign language. I’m an engineer at heart, more at home with math & physics, where you learn a small amount of things, from which everything else can be derived.

The other aspects of Spanish such as pronunciation and grammar seemed to offer a set of rules which could be learned, practiced and internalized given a reasonable amount of studying. (I particularly like Michel Thomas and Duolingo for this.) But I had no handle on how to learn vocabulary. I’ve never been a fan of rote learning, and hence never developed skills to learn vast quantities of unrelated things. It seems to take somewhere in the order of 10,000 words to read comfortably in a foreign language. It may as well have been infinite. How on earth do you approach learning 10,000 of anything?


An Instapaper For Language Learners

December 10, 2015 by Steve - Comments

Readlang was originally designed for reading novels, but it was clear early on that I needed a more accessible source of free content for people to read, and what better source than the internet! For this reason, Readlang has a web importer, allowing you to import a plain text version of a web-page, a la Instapaper*. The original importer was a hastily coded affair, which included far too much cruft from the source web page and has long been due for an overhaul, so here it is…


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.


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


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


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.


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