I hope you’re having a great week so far and that your German is coming along nicely.
I’m doing pretty good because I am in Oulu. That’s a town in Finland about 100 miles South of the arctic circle on the northern end of the Baltic sea and I came here because I absolutely needed some actual winter. Like… with snow and really cold temperatures. I love that. I really love seasons, actually and I want them to be extreme. -20 degrees Celsius in winter, +40 in summer. That’s my ideal :).
Unfortunately, it is not as cold as I had hoped but it’s still great, because Oulu is a beautiful city with lots of nature and water, Finns are really great people and there’s like the perfect gym with a view of the sea really close to my home.
Oh and actually, it’s the city where I realized that I’m actually good with languages (I used to think that it’s not my thing), and learning Finnish also helped a great deal to get an open mind for how different things can actually be.
So yeah… I’m really happy to be here.
But of course I also came to get some really focused work done, and I’ll have a real article ready in a few days, but I wanted to share a small site update real quick.
Because I have a really cool new feature for my dictionary.
So far, if you typed something in that wasn’t directly in my dictionary, you’d get no results, but from now on, the dictionary will actually make suggestions for what you might have meant. That should save you some hassle with typos and endings and so on.
I still have to “beauty up” the page itself and I also want to add either a comment section or a form where you can make suggestions what I should add to the dictionary.
But I decided to make the feature already accessible. Here’s how it looks for the search term “falln”:
Now, this is very much a work in progress, so for some search terms you might get a few suggestions, but not the one you’re actually looking for, even though it is in the dictionary.
But I’ll improve the suggestions over time, and they’re already an improvement as they are.
Oh and also, the dictionary used to also allow searches in English, but for some reason that is not working at the moment. I’ll have to investigate that but I hope to bring that back soon.
EDIT: It’s back :)
So that’s the new feature, now for the question.
One important question
Well, I don’t know if it’s actually important but a little clickbait is okay :).
So, I was thinking of playing around with a language learning app recently (for Finnish) and there, the translations of the examples were hidden. I kind of really liked that, so I am now wondering if I should do the same.
Right now, you see the German and English versions of an example right above one another, and my idea is to hide the English side and you have to click to see it.
- So ist es jetzt.
- This is how it is now.
- So könnte es sein.
- (click to view)… NOT WORKING, just an idea
Now, that of course means that you’ll have to do a lot of clicking if you want to see the English, and that’s why I wanted to ask all of you what you think, before making a change like that.
So here’s the poll:
Thanks a lot!
Oh and another thing. A couple of months back, I don’t recall when exactly, someone complained about the position of the audio button for the examples. I can’t find that comment or email anymore, but it was an interesting idea, so if you’re reading this, please please speak up in the comments and let me know again what we talked about. I do want to “streamline” the layout of the examples a little bit so any ideas are appreciated.
So yeah… let me know in the comments how you like the search suggestions and if they’re working well so far. And let me know your thoughts about the examples and how to show them.
Have a great few days and I’ll see you soon.
“Capital of Uruguay? (Montevideo)” does not teach anyone. You can’t search your memory while your eyes look at the answer.
But lots of extra clicks?? Ugh. Suggestions:
– to see the answer, scroll down
(like your text paragraphs now)
– make the answer appear after 3 seconds
– press any key to see the answer
(yes! I use a laptop)
Well, the core idea of the examples is not that you translate them. It’s to showcase something. They illustrate the text, and the majority of readers is not good enough to get the translations correctly. So the point is to see it the translation and build understanding of what is going on.
The hiding feature would be an add-on for people who do like to “puzzle”, but that’s not the main intent of the examples. Also because it ruins the flow of the article, which is something I usually pay a lot of attention to.
Thanks for the design ideas! Scrolling would be super annoying for people who don’t want to hide the examples, because then you have to scroll up and down.
Appear after a few seconds… that’s a nice idea, but again, people who want to see the translation would get super annoyed.
Press any key… that’s too complicated technically. I’d have to track what example is in the middle of the screen and then dynamically add functionality to the keyboard.
Nah, it’ll have to be a few buttons, I don’t really see a way around it.
I voted to hide the English translation, but on reading some of these comments, I definitely like the idea of some sort of toggle. Of course I have no idea about the programming issues that causes you, but it seems to be a very cool idea.
No “Done” button in this post! :)
I would suggest making it as it is by default, but is it doable if you log in to have the ability in settings to change it?
I never put “done” buttons on announcement posts :)
Having it in settings is possible, but it needs to be accessible at all times without leaving the position you’re in in the article.
I am glad the look-up works when the umlaut is left off. Sometimes I am too lazy to switch to the German keyboard on my laptop. BTW is “ae” in a German word always interpreted as the the umlaut over the “a”? There are no German words that are spelled with an ae?
Hmm, I’m always a bit hesitant with absolutes but yeah, I don’t think there’s a word that is spelled “ae” and pronounced “a”. There are some greek words that contain “ae” which is then pronounced as two letters. Like Ikosaeder. When I was a child, I would read those as “ä” funnily enough :)
I usually take a piece of paper and hide the translation anyway. I wouldn’t want to have to wait for another window to open.
I LOVE the addition of suggestions, especially when I am not sure of the spelling for a word I am trying to look up.
Nah, it would/will show immediately under the German sentence. No new window needed.
You already have the computer code that shows a German phrase followed by its translation and I assume you will soon generate the code that shows the phrase with a hidden translation. So, would it be easy to also include a little toggle button near the beginning of each day’s post that says something like ‘do you want automatic translation of phrases, yes or no?’. The ‘yes’ choice just routs the user to your current (translation) code, the ‘no’ choice routs them to the new (no translation) code. Depending how one feels that day, you could choose automatic translation or not. The only extra coding you’d have to do is for the toggle button and I imagine that’s probably fairly simple. Just a thought.
Well, it’s two toggle buttons, one that shows/hides all, German or English and one that shows individual examples.
It’s nothing too tricky, but I need to write a few checks. Like… if you set the global to “hide English” and then you reveal one and then later you change the global to “show English” than the one you switched earlier should stay visible and not get toggled back.
But yeah, it’s nothing that I can’t solve.
The main issue for me is where to put the button on mobile. I am running out of screenspace.
Actually, I like the current (immediate translation) option, so no changes of any kind are needed (for me). If I can’t quickly get the sense of a phrase then no amount of me guessing wrong answers helps me much – just wastes time. I only mentioned the toggle button idea so I could continue to use the immediate translation option in case the ‘hidden translation’ option gets more votes!
Learning happens faster when there is some stress/necessity involved, so I’m all for hiding the translation to ensure I’m really thinking about the word. Thanks for adding this feature (whenever you do).
That picture is gorgeous! I am now in Florida and I miss Winter a lot. I would love to go to Finland and especially to see Northern Lights sometime before too long.
Oh, I’ve never seen those. I think I’d have to go further North or it needs to be actually really cold, like -20 and clear sky.
I spent a whole winter here when I was studying and didn’t see them once.
Still on my bucket list :)
You can have my share of winter! In Metro Detroit wir hatten den sehr unangenehmen bomb cyclone zum Weihnachtsfest aber seitdem ist es sehr mild mit sehr wenig Regen oder Eis und gar nichts Schnee und ich bin mit dies zufrieden.
Send the bomb cyclone over, I’ll take it :)
I like the idea of hidden translation and then to see it, it would be a dropdown. Definitely do not want it to open another tab.
And me too!! Cold winter with snow!! Do I really have to travel so far for that. Here in Washington DC no sign of snow :(
The whole Europe is super warm at the moment. In Bulgaria it’s like 15 degrees plus, which is crazy.
Well, at least we don’t need as much gas this season.
I like the hidden translation idea. Das stimmt für mich, aber vielleicht nicht für die anderen.
zb; when watching Deutsch Filmen I do not want to see the translation. I need to figure it out from hearing the speech, and the context. Otherwise I don’t learn anything. However, that makes my wife crazy. We’re different, and we learn differently.
So a preferences/configuration option gutes Sinn machts.
Mein Sohn hat ein en Austauschstudent aus Finland. Er ist ein interessanter Junge!
Ooooo Finland in the winter!!!
No matter the results, you should remain as CEO!
I will abide by the contents of this comment.
Nice username by the way :)
Super mit dem Verstecken!
Manchmal vielleicht den deutschen Satz verstecken, manchmal den englischen, je nach Bedürfnis.
Und wie Paul Ed sagt: eine Schaltfläche am Anfang um alles anzuzeigen.
Ich war nie in Oulu (Uleåborg auf Schwedisch). Aber ich mag Finnland und die Finnen sehr und würde gerne Finnisch lernen. Es gibt viele versteckte leihwörter von Schwedisch in Finnisch (und auch von Finnisch in Schwedisch), und sie sind nicht immer so einfach zu finden, weil die Finnen mögen nicht mehrere Konsonanten am Anfang von den Wörtern. Zum Beispiel: strand (Ufer) => ranta, Stockholm => Tukholma. Ich finde es lustig, sie zu finden.
Oh my god, I did not realize that “ranta” could be “Strand”. But it’s so obvious once you’ve seen it… well, “obvious” being stretched here.
I thought about this a bit more. There are times where I am just reading, not testing myself, and having to click reveal every sentence would get frustrating. I usually don’t treat articles like a quiz – I go there to get information and learn. Therefore I imagine having to reveal each sentence would impair my use of the site. I do see it could have some benefits too but only if there was an optional hide all / reveal all button (preferably hide all)
Oh good point. I totally agree.
This was also my thinking when I voted against it. However if it can be arranged that it is a setting one picks (Ich habe keine Ahnung ob das kompliziert wäre) das wäre toll!
I think based on the comments, that’s the way to do it :).
Technically, it’s not too difficult, just a bit of “Fleißarbeit” (boring work that needs to be done).
The main challenge is where to put the option on mobile, so that it is accessible without scrolling but also doesn’t eat up too much screenspace.
Wow. Sounds like a really cool place. Have fun! :)
I agree with the other commenters.
Hiding things is better for testing, not learning.
I also agree with others, that if a change is made, the reveal all button is a must.
But I’m very happy with the site as is.
I like to challenge myself by looking away and seeing if I can repeat the entire sentence out loud from memory once I’ve understood all the details.
For me, understanding is way easier than producing.
I do not see any comments any more. Warum!
Can’t tell, but chances are it’s to do with some files that the browser needs to update from my site. It should resolve in time.
I’m definitely on board for the English translations being concealed in some way, but would prefer a system whereby you hover over the German in order to see the English translation (Ugh, just realised what a dinosaur I am: most people are probably reading on mobile devices, where hover doesn’t really make sense), instead an all-or-nothing toggle. Hmm, I guess that means clicking on the German text to show/hide the English, or perhaps an arrow next to the German text.
If that’s too finicky to implement (I have a memory of you mentioning that js is stripped out by your editor of choice, which sounds, aaah, “fun”) then a global toggle is also cool. It’s just that the way I would envisage using it is “nope, can’t guess what this means => show me!”, then back to hidden mode for the next one. So it’d be nice if that on/off didn’t have to involve any scrolling away from where the reading/absorption is taking place.
This would be a site-wide change based on some regex-fun. Yes, I’ll go THERE… it’s hell. And then some js to set it up after page load.
The editor issue is that I cannot put “onclick=()” into the content, also via regex. That’ll disappear as soon as I open the post to edit it.
But yeah… adding a class with regex is not a big deal and then js for the rest.
what I’m kind of stuck with is where to put it, so it’s always available without scrolling… on phone. It’s pretty much a 50/50 split between mobile and desktop users so no way for me to prioritize one type :)
A couple of ideas:
If you’re using an editor, the easiest way to tag elements is probably by adding custom classes, e.g.,
Alternatively, you could use a combination of the
langattribute with a
data-attribute. For instance: <li lang=”en” data-role=”translation”>.
Or a third approach, if you’re tending to write in HTML, or have the ability to add custom tags to your editor, is to use a custom HTML tag: <li><translation lang=”en”>…</translation></li>.
If you take the approach of dynamically generating the UI, one UI approach you might experiment with that should work on desktop and mobile is to have two buttons next to each translation: [Show Translation] [Show All]. Once a translation is showing, on the next line you could show [Hide Translation] [Hide All].
If you do it, I would also recommend making the “all” a site-wide preference, so someone who prefers to always have translations visible can set it once and forget about it.
This is roughly in line with how I’ll do it. The examples actually do have a data atribute already that contains some information about the dictionary.
I will use that to find all <ul> elements through js and target their children for the toggles.
Usually (not always) the German translation is up top.
The thing with classes is that I don’t write hmtl when I write a post. I write in an editor. So I would have to go to html view for every new post and add the classes to every example, which is the kind of tedious, annoying little work that I will detest over time. There’s already so much “little stuff” that I have to do around just one article (doing audio, doing some hmtl changed for the audio, doing the quiz, entering the quiz, entering all the vocabulary so it shows up and is connected in the dictionary, add all the examples to the dictionary, create the pdf, write the newsletter)… so yeah… I’ll have to use something that’s already there, or I need to write a plugin software that specifically adds example hmtl through the editor.
Anyway, thanks for the input. I really appreciate talking this over with some of you :)
Any idea where to put that functionality on mobile? Like… the global show/hide button?
For mobile and desktop, I was proposing not having a dedicated global show/hide button at the top, but to include one in every example.
Ich gehe zur Schule[Show English] [Always Show English]And then when it’s visible:
Ich gehe zur SchuleI am going to school.[Hide English] [Always Hide English]The bracketed text could be actual buttons and you may not use a separate bullet for them, but you get the idea.
For creating the examples, it looks like you use WordPress for this site. It sounds like you’ve already thought about this, but you may be at the point where the examples are getting complex enough it makes sense to create custom shortcodes to make creating them easier.
For example, you could two shortcodes, one for the example and one for each language, that you can use directly in the editor:
[t lang=”de”]Ich gehe zur Schule
aber nicht zu schnell[/t]
[t lang=”en”]I’m going to school,
but not too quickly[/t]
Anyway, just some ideas to think about. If you go down the shortcode route, there’s now some nice shortcode generators or plugins that make the process easier than it used to be.
(And, actually, looking at your code again, I’d be surprised if you’re not already using shortcodes for some of the generation. If so, just ignore those ideas).
When we did the dictionary, the idea actually came up to do the examples via shortcode and have them stored separately from the post content. I decided against it back then because I was afraid having all these shortcodes would slow the site down or eat up my server cpu seconds. Not sure how big that difference is but I’m pretty sure a pure html load is faster than parsing in 20 examples via short codes. However, having them in a separate database table would offer a LOT more options.
Anyway, I’m not sure about having the button besides each example.
Because if you by default want to not see the translation and then you open one, all would open and you’d have to first click again to close all, so with 20 examples that would in the extreme be 40 clicks instead of 21.
Also, once the feature is up, people will start asking to hide the German, as an option as well. So hiding the English or hiding German, or hiding both (and just have the audio) or hiding nothing.
Including the audio play button and the pronunciation trainer button, that would be too many buttons next to each example :)
Ugh… this is going to be a mess, I can feel it :)
A mell of a hess! Nothing beats immersion be it active or passive. Language is contextual. Whatever your approach = when it”feels” good, you’ve pretty much mastered it … and who the hell cares? You are not a native, so get over it! You will make mistakes. This said, Emanuel, let me suggest a new fun topic: humor. Faux pas Confessions, if you will, that we all have made while trying to learn another language, My very first week in Germany I had need to ask for directions to a shooting range – don’t ask why – and I was still struggling with the pronunciation of ie vs, ei. You guessed it, I still the recall the suppressed laughter of the native’s polite response. Without a sense of humor, never venture into a foreign language, Bet your readers have some “whoppers” to relate. Should be real fun!
Nice idea but I have zero to contribute there. I’ve never made a funny blunder like that :). Just boring blunders.
Nice addition to the search feature. Hiding the English translation is good for me. I always try to translate in my head first.