Simpler is Better

Some 130,000 users have made some level of effort to examine a “language learning” approach to recognizing words (originially developed at Teachers College while looking at ways to introduce Indo-European language speakers to Sino-Tibetan and other non-alphabetic languages), and over the last five years, I have come to realize that the original implementation of this idea added an unnecessary layer of complexity and probably, for most people, severely limited the appeal (or even entirely hid) the appeal of this notion.  Learning languages is sufficient challenging to most beginners — there was no need to add more complexity to the basic approach, at least at the outset. No need to create puzzles to make it more interesting (or just harder) to click on words, hear them pronounced, see the characters — and let them click as often as they like.

With new Touch mode, and native standard pronunciation.

So with version 5.x, this new language learning tool is much more useful to my own study of basic “Hanzi” (Chinese characters), as it starts in a simple “point-click-hear-see” mode that lets me randomly click any word and hear it in Chinese (or German, or French, etc) as often and as many times as I like.  I bet most people that try this will find it useful — and probably too useful to even wonder how to use the “review” or “play” modes (still available in the app) to begin testing their own retention.  Ah well, five years on, better late than never.  See

Advantages of BootStrap: multi-language support add-on

I was very impressed with how quick and easy it was to create a web site with “twitter bootstrap.js” — but only today did a fellow grad student teach me another benefit:  support for multi-language web sites.  [I found tutorials at very useful, and the one below basically had my site up and running in less than its the running time (it is well over an hour and designed for non-technical novices). The others from this teacher were on individual bootstrap 3 features, rather than the one-stop-shop provided below.]

There are many ways to do multi-lingual web sites, of course.  I was really intrigued with / impressed with EasyLing, which seemed to have a pretty painless and “standards-based” way to approach the problem (but probably overkill for many uses).  And I discovered a WordPress multiple-language plugin (?) or service / api, but it was apparently discontinued over a year ago… still it seemed there should be a better way.

And Wencheng Hu, an experienced translator and web developer, provided me the key solution element:  a complete BootStrap 3 solution for language labels and names, etc.  — documented here at  complete with flags icons (in three sizes) for the 43 languages it supports!

How well this works for a “web app” or even a “blog” on an ongoing basis, i am not sure.  probably a blog should just be done as separate blogs for a variety of reasons, but swapping out labels and UI elements in an application is often useful (if, for a variety of reasons, painful).  My 8-language support for my language learning” apps on iOS taught me a lot about the challenges of making an app work for 8 different audiences…

I am very interested to see the final details of my implementation for my new web site.  I will post the implementation particulars, as one-page bootstrap web sites are a very handy and useful tool for SMEs, and this neat trick certainly works quite well for a small number of languages. Further, popular and inexpensive hosting services support the necessary tools with ease and by default, by and large, so the follow up post should be quite short. And soon!