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Foreign Language Education Software For Linux?

Cliff posted more than 13 years ago | from the Sprechen-Sie-Deutsch dept.

Education 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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Re:You just aren't looking hard enough. (1)

realkiwi (23584) | more than 13 years ago | (#510078)


Re:Cymru am Byth! (1)

Capt. Mubbers (206692) | more than 13 years ago | (#510079)

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.

Re:Speech Recognition (2)

HomeySmurf (124537) | more than 13 years ago | (#510080)

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.

Re:You just aren't looking hard enough. (1)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 13 years ago | (#510081)

vas faire foutre a la vache

Re:FreshMeat (1)

HomeySmurf (124537) | more than 13 years ago | (#510082)

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.

Re:You just aren't looking hard enough. (1)

realkiwi (23584) | more than 13 years ago | (#510083)

enfoiré! sac à merde!


Transparent Language (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 13 years ago | (#510084)

Immersion. Works great, it's teaching me Latin. Grammer isn't a main focus of the program, but all the info is in there.

Re:Bah, Montreal (2)

maggard (5579) | more than 13 years ago | (#510085)

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.

Congratulations! (1)

rsmith (90057) | more than 13 years ago | (#510086)

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?


I'm just beginning to develop this.... (2)

cvd6262 (180823) | more than 13 years ago | (#510087)

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.

Re:why? (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#510088)

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.

Low tech solutions (2)

kurisuto (165784) | more than 13 years ago | (#510089)

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.)

Re:Speech Recognision (1)

Forkenhoppen (16574) | more than 13 years ago | (#510090)

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)

Re:English, actually (1)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 13 years ago | (#510091)

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)

Immersion Up To Your Toes. (2)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 13 years ago | (#510092)

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...

Re:Speech Recognision (1)

Kaiwen (123401) | more than 13 years ago | (#510093)

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.

Re:English, actually (1)

chrischow (133164) | more than 13 years ago | (#510094)

oh that old chestnut again, just because someone can say "hello mister" doesn't mean they can speak english!

Re:English, actually (1)

chrischow (133164) | more than 13 years ago | (#510095)

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?

Re:why? (1)

chrischow (133164) | more than 13 years ago | (#510096)

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

Re:why? (1)

chrischow (133164) | more than 13 years ago | (#510097)

are you holding a conversation with yourself or something?!

Re:Wine? (1)

bbcat (8314) | more than 13 years ago | (#510098)

Can you run Wine if you don't have any winblows
partition on your PC?
If you do, what about installing winblows programs?

Try switching your desktop (1)

Starky (236203) | more than 13 years ago | (#510099)

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 doesn't work(Rosetta Stone) (1)

bbcat (8314) | more than 13 years ago | (#510100)

The demo insists on needing some plugin which
doesn't exist. The last version is version 4
and it requires version 8.

Re:Rosetta Stone (1)

smiggly (235904) | more than 13 years ago | (#510101)

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...

dear god (1)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 13 years ago | (#510102)

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.

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

mrfiddlehead (129279) | more than 13 years ago | (#510106)

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.

Freedom to be lazy (1)

ishrat (235467) | more than 13 years ago | (#510107)

We are all lazy at times aren't we, Specially with so many good souls on slashdot.

Wine? (1)

Beowulf_Boy (239340) | more than 13 years ago | (#510111)

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)

Re:why? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#510112)

Where you gettin' these numbers from?

Re:Speech Recognision (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#510113)

yer I think it is Mandarin that's most popular.

Translated (You just aren't looking hard enough.) (4)

Thomas Miconi (85282) | more than 13 years ago | (#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

WINE might be of use - (1)

geojaz (11691) | more than 13 years ago | (#510115)

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

Re:Speech Recognision (1)

Prothonotar (3324) | more than 13 years ago | (#510116)

Couldn't have had to do with the roughly 800+ million more Mandarin speakers...
Aaron Gaudio
"The fool finds ignorance all around him.

No education software... (1)

Moderator (189749) | more than 13 years ago | (#510117)

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.


Re:English, actually (2)

hawk (1151) | more than 13 years ago | (#510118)

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 . . .

English, actually (2)

hawk (1151) | more than 13 years ago | (#510119)

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.)

hawk (1)

bennybobw (304816) | more than 13 years ago | (#510120)

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--

Have a look at kvoctrain. (1)

Moritz Moeller - Her (3704) | more than 13 years ago | (#510121)

Haven't tested it, but might be worth checking out.

Rosetta Stone (2)

jason_hutchens (239116) | more than 13 years ago | (#510122)

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.

Re:Wine? (2)

cduffy (652) | more than 13 years ago | (#510123)

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.

Re:Wine? (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 13 years ago | (#510124)

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.

Re:my thoughts... (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 13 years ago | (#510125)

Sound capture is supported for software using the winmm DLL, but not DirectSound. Thus, it depends on the software.

Re:FreshMeat (1)

Neuticle (255200) | more than 13 years ago | (#510126)

That, and there's always WINE, which is improving as it ages..

FreshMeat (2)

Yokaze (70883) | more than 13 years ago | (#510127)

A quick search for "language teaching" revealed: LingoTeach [] .

IRC (1)

phr1 (211689) | more than 13 years ago | (#510128)

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.

Ask Slashdot (3)

SmokeSerpent (106200) | more than 13 years ago | (#510129)

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?

An Outstanding GPLd Chinese Character Tutor (1)

Wills (242929) | more than 13 years ago | (#510130)

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

Re:why? (1)

fubillgates (266736) | more than 13 years ago | (#510131)

Kill the frogs!! Kill the frog!!

P.S. Hanzim = good Japanese Kanji tutor too (1)

Wills (242929) | more than 13 years ago | (#510132)

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.

Excellent Chinese writing tutor of interest... (1)

Wills (242929) | more than 13 years ago | (#510134)

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. []

Speech Recognision (5)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#510136)

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?

Re:FreshMeat (1)

Imran Ghory (200764) | more than 13 years ago | (#510140)

Reading it's description it appears to be a testing program more then a teaching program.

Re:why? (1)

grahamm (8844) | more than 13 years ago | (#510141)

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.

Re:why? (1)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 13 years ago | (#510142)

I assure you that I am an American.
As has been posted elsewhere [] , I'm in seattle.

Re:FreshMeat (1)

the_argent (28326) | more than 13 years ago | (#510144)

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".


NLS (1)

egon (29680) | more than 13 years ago | (#510146)

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.

Re:two words (1)

zhensel (228891) | more than 13 years ago | (#510147)

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.

Bah, Montreal (1)

trolebus (234192) | more than 13 years ago | (#510148)

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.

How about this? (1)

Count Spatula (103735) | more than 13 years ago | (#510149)

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.)

Re:Low tech solutions (1)

Vspirit (200600) | more than 13 years ago | (#510150)

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..

What is this? (1)

JollyFinn (267972) | more than 13 years ago | (#510151)

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.

Wild Eastern Languages (1)

TheUnholyBrain (245967) | more than 13 years ago | (#510152)

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

Linux (1)

SpatchMonkey (300000) | more than 13 years ago | (#510153)

What is this obsession with Linux anyway? Concentrate on the software and not the operating system!

Simply put : No (2)

TJamieson (218336) | more than 13 years ago | (#510154)

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.

Radio-Canada (2)

jonabbey (2498) | more than 13 years ago | (#510155)

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.

Re:Rosetta Stone (1)

randito (159822) | more than 13 years ago | (#510156)

The Demo is Shockwave, not Flash. Don't bother trying from linux.

Oh poop (2)

Eric Green (627) | more than 13 years ago | (#510157)

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").


Re:Translated (You just aren't looking hard enough (1)

Zero Sum (209324) | more than 13 years ago | (#510158)

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

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

And Yahoo (2)

Pseudonymus Bosch (3479) | more than 13 years ago | (#510159)

Tell Yahoo Auctions you are a French user,... wait, don't.

Re:Linux (1)

Zero Sum (209324) | more than 13 years ago | (#510160)

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?

Re:why? (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#510161)

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". (2)

CobesTheGreat (267634) | more than 13 years ago | (#510162) [] 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!

A Suggestion: (2)

Montressor (34631) | more than 13 years ago | (#510163)

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 :)

Re:Speech Recognision (1)

ghoti (60903) | more than 13 years ago | (#510166)

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 ;-)

Correcteur 101 (2)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | more than 13 years ago | (#510168)

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.

Re:why? (1)

Trollificus (253741) | more than 13 years ago | (#510169)

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."

language learning software (1)

Zugok (17194) | more than 13 years ago | (#510171)

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.

beaucoup d'information (1)

dobratzp (155212) | more than 13 years ago | (#510172)

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 [] .

LANG (1)

choi (189590) | more than 13 years ago | (#510173)

export LANG="fr";

I know! (3)

Croaker (10633) | more than 13 years ago | (#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!

my thoughts... (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 13 years ago | (#510175)

Is it possible that most of the software that would be available for Windows 9x would run under Wine?

I can't think that the educational software would necessarily take more of the advanced features of Windows; although you may be against buying Windows products.

I would think that this would be a good solution in case the Linux solutions don't have what you need.

Re:Speech Recognision (1)

bokane (36382) | more than 13 years ago | (#510176)

Isn't Mandarin the most popular language, since it's the "official" dialect of Chinese in China? I know that Cantonese is more common with overseas Chinese, but...

Re:Speech Recognision (1)

bokane (36382) | more than 13 years ago | (#510177)

"Personally I think it's a shame that Mandarin got elected as the official language, because it's linguistically inferior."

How so? I know that Mandarin only has four tones, as opposed to Cantonese's seven, but still...what is it that's inferior?

Ja wohl! (1)

ibpooks (127372) | more than 13 years ago | (#510178)

Ja, ich spreche Deutsch.

two words (1)

gwjc (181552) | more than 13 years ago | (#510179)

man french

Re:I know! (1)

Saib0t (204692) | more than 13 years ago | (#510180)

I'm afraid speaking like a babelfish translation would only get you laughed at by natives though...

You never can tell, so ask a friend (1)

NuclearArchaeologist (104596) | more than 13 years ago | (#510181)

A classmate of mine showed me a very clever gadget he had to help him with his English. It spelled alright, but it's pronounciation was so bad I could not understand it.

Re:What is this? (1)

bbcat (8314) | more than 13 years ago | (#510182)

You can enjoy your wet dreams as you wish
but the facts remain that the best spoken
english in the world is that of the US,
the southern US to be more acurate.

Re:A Suggestion: (1)

eean (177028) | more than 13 years ago | (#510183)

He meant join any software team that happened to be headed by a French guy.

Re:What is this? (1)

eean (177028) | more than 13 years ago | (#510184)

There is a thing such as American English. You need to specify English because of the other American languages such as Spanish, Ebonics, French (Canada is in the Americas also) or Portuguese. All of those languages are as American as English.

Vmware (1)

eean (177028) | more than 13 years ago | (#510185)

If you already have Windows and language software, then using a virtual windows in VMWare [] makes the most sense.

I did something like this (1)

Giant Robot (56744) | more than 13 years ago | (#510186)

I made a program in my spare time (just a quick hack) over the summer to speak cantonese words given input in a textbox. Chinese windows (Big5) is required though (and a lot of ram)

Cantonese Speaker []

My sys-admin made me take off all the audio files because it used around 10megs of their space, but e-mail me at if you are interested.

The voice is based on the "yale romanization" of cantonese (learn it to learrn cantonese!!!) I'm planning to extend this to include phrases in chinese and other stuff, and make it in something else.

Re:Bah, Montreal (1)

bbcat (8314) | more than 13 years ago | (#510187)

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
A good advice to you would be that in the future you think before you say anything so you wouldn't
look as stupid as you do now.
For one thing there is less english used in the French spoken in Canada and here in the US
than there is in the French spoken in Europe. One other fact is that the French in America
has not changed nearly as much over the years as the European French has changed.
What may give problems for European French would be the accent, but then again when
you go from Paris to Marseille it's like changing country.
An American has more chances of coming in contact with French Canadians or Franco Americans than
with European French who only come to the US to bitch about how much they hate us Americans.
Europeans French hate Americans while French Canadians prefer Americans to anglo canucks.
When times come for vacations one would be considered a moron if he considered vacationing
in english Canada instead of the US.
When time came to join the Free Trade with the US, Québec supported it and the rest of Canada
opposed it. It was amusing to see the results of the election on anglo and French Canadian TV. It looked
like a funeral on anglo TV and a victory party on French Canadian TV.

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

SmokeSerpent (106200) | more than 13 years ago | (#510188)

How about if "torinth" had done teh Freshmeat and Google searches, gotten listings for a few packages and asked people to discuss their feelings about them?

As posted, the `Ask Slashdot' we are discussing is no more interesting or worthy of a respone than the homework questions that have made Usenet computer language groups entirely useless.

Re:You need a native speaker to learn from (1)

bbcat (8314) | more than 13 years ago | (#510189)

Do like my wife did, find yourself a French
speaking friend and you shall learn the language
rather quickly.

My wife was fluent in French in less than
a year.

It worked well for me too, my english is
almost as good as that of anyone from Texas
or Louisiana.

Re:Speech Recognision (1)

FigWig (10981) | more than 13 years ago | (#510191)

Cantonese is only spoken in parts of sourthern China, Hong Kong, Vancouver and Silicon Valley. You're probably thinking of Mandarin as the most spoken language in the world, though just because lots of people speak a language doesn't make it valuable to know.

By the way, Cantonese is pretty damn hard to learn (more tones than Mandarin) and is closer to ancient chinese than other 'dialects.'

Re:Speech Recognision (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#510192)

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.

You just aren't looking hard enough. (5)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 13 years ago | (#510193)

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.

It's not really a bad question (3)

eGabriel (5707) | more than 13 years ago | (#510196)

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.

Re:why? (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#510198)

Hey good point. And I think it is Mandarin over Cantonese that is number one.
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