Hey folks, it’s Tyler again. It’s been another long and busy week, with a flurry of both internal and external initiatives launching, starting, or just wrapping up! Let’s see what’s new 👀
Something we quickly noticed upon our rollout of English to English support last week is English contains a lot of conjugations. Seriously – we had no idea. So far in this blog post, we’ve already conjugated fifteen words. For someone learning English, having the only definition of “accelerated” be “past tense of accelerate”, well… that’s not entirely helpful.
As a result, this week we launched official support for “base forms” in our dictionary browser, so you can study both the conjugated form of a word as well as its original base form!
It’s important to note you may not always see base forms where you would expect. Take, for instance, the word “exhausted”. “Exhausted”, as an adjective, contains no base form. You use this word to describe someone who is fatigued or tired. “Exhausted”, as a verb, however, does have a base form – “exhaust”. In the sentence “he exhausted all his options”, “exhausted” is the past tense of the verb “exhaust” (meaning to “use up”, or “consume”).
Depending on the sentence and the part of speech of the word you’re learning, you may or may not see a base form. Just as a heads-up 😉
I really wish we had more to put under our launches for the week, but hey, every week is like a piñata – you never know what’s inside! 🎉
That said, we have a ton of exciting stuff on deck for the next couple weeks (so exciting that I can’t help but share some of it with you).
We’ll just say it: the current method of importing articles and documents from around the web is less than ideal.
Right now you plug in a URL, our server (sort of) works its magic, and then (if you’re lucky) we’ll successfully process your article after several seconds of waiting. Not to get into the nitty gritty, but effectively we need to spin up our own browser to get the content off the page you gave us. Hopefully, we end up seeing the same page as you do – all the content loads, there aren’t any paywalls, our network speed matches yours, etc. Truth be told, we’re tired of playing the guessing game.
In response, we are building a browser extension. If you’ve ever used LingQ’s importer tool, this approach might sound familiar. Once a feature request on our Canny, we’ve since decided that this feature is more of a must have than a bell or whistle. Using our browser extension, you’ll be able to snapshot the exact page you’re viewing on the web and import it into Linguistic, where you’ll have extensive access to its sentences, vocabulary and difficulty level. Best of all, this should all happen in a fraction of the time it takes current articles to upload.
Eventually we may take an approach similar to VocabTracker and provide on-page support for learning vocabulary and saving flashcards, but for now we feel bringing the main content of what you’re reading over to Linguistic will provide the cleanest and fullest experience.
So keep your eyes open for an announcement in the near-future – we’re stoked to have you try it out!
In an effort to not just provide you with foreign news you can read but to provide you with the stuff you want to read, we’ll soon be introducing basic tagging to our URL and text upload features.
Once you open the app for the first time, you’ll be prompted to select topics that interest you so we can start you off on the right foot. You’ll also be able to search and filter articles from the sidebar by topic, as well as specify the topics and tags of the documents you upload.
You’ll also soon be able to change the visibility and discoverability of the text you upload. Right now, text documents are private by default and URL uploads are public, but in the coming weeks we’ll be giving you more control over all that.
Lastly, soon we plan to provide a top-level overview of the vocabulary in a single document to provide you with a sense of the all of the unique words it contains. You’ll have the ability to comb through the words at a glance and save any that seem unfamiliar to you, without having to learn the document sentence-by-sentence.
Furthermore, we’ll also be introducing word tagging based on official language proficiency exams – CEFR for English, HSK for Chinese, and JLPT for Japanese. This way, you’ll know which vocabulary will help you prepare for which test 🧠
On top of the launches and in-flight feature work of this week, we also spent some time (as we do every week) squashing and investigating bugs. We’ve updated our error tracking to better associate incoming errors with our weekly rollouts, as well as increased our performance monitoring across the stack to identify buggy or lagging code.
We’re currently investigating issues around document uploading, lag when learning English, and an unresponsive UI when you “quick save” words from the word list for a specific sentence.
We’re also on the hunt for a superb backend engineer to join us as our first technical hire! If you’re interested, you can read more here.
Well – that’s all for this week. See you next Friday!