A book that slowly teaches you a new language

Learning a new language is a great way to improve yourself. You can communicate with more people, learn more easily about new cultures and maybe even get a whole new view on the world (that’s your cue to go on a Wikipedia trip to read about the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis).

So that’s great! But learning a new language also takes a lot of effort… Which means procrastination and delay!

Let's do it tomorrow

That’s why we should combine the chore with fun. Fun like reading a book! In this case it’s a dual-language book.

How does it work?

You start reading chapter One in a language you’re comfortable with. Then a couple sentences into the book, one of the words is in a different language. Then part of a sentence and later a whole paragraph. This continues until you read the last sentence of the book completely in your new language!

You'll read the last sentence of the book completely in your new language!

To make it easy for our language-learners it should be possible at all times to see the ‘original’ word (or sentence) and ideally there should be audio to help with the pronunciation.

Prototyping time!

What good are ideas if you don’t try them out? So I’ve created a functionally working version of the Dualbooks idea. For now the library has only 1 chapter which is Dutch-English. More chapters, books and languages should be added of course, but the main concept works!

You’ll start reading in English and pretty soon encounter Dutch words. Especially try out:

  • hovering over Dutch words, you’ll instantly get the translation
  • clicking on the word gives you the translation as well small overlay in the bottom of the page
  • listen to the Dutch word (with the ‘listen’ link)
  • viewing the page on mobile (yup, it is responsive!)

The prototype is made with Jekyll, so it’s extremely easy to add new chapters and books. I’ve created media-types for both of them and Jekyll auto-parses the translation-links to work correctly. So no programming is necessary for expanding the library!

One more thing…

I’ve also added some cool perl/bash-magic for Mac users which automatically creates audio-files of all the Dutch (or ‘new language’) parts. This means the pronunciation of the Dutch words you hear are actually made by a computer.

Try it out!

Test the prototype here and learn some Dutch!

And help me expand my library! Check out the Github

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