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Lingro, an Open Dictionary

I don't keep up well on technical products for English-language learners, but Lingro, an "open dictionary" created by a new company—also called Lingro—seems useful for ELLs. The online dictionary was released Nov. 17.

The site, lingro.com, which is also the dictionary, lets anyone read a Web page in English and click on a word on that page to get a translation. You enter the Web address for a Web page in a box on lingro.com and the words on the page become clickable. Unlike many online dictionaries, Lingro doesn't translate the entire text. So a student can read the Web page in English and click only on the individual words that give him or her problems. The computer also helps the student keep his or her own word list. Translations are available from English to French, German, Italian, Polish, and Spanish—and for all of those languages back to English.

I had an e-mail conversation about Lingro with Paul Kastner, a co-founder of the Worcester, Mass.-based company. He and the company's other founder, he said, want to make Internet tools free for individuals and also create paid custom tools for institutions. Lingro is free and will stay free, the Web site says. Mr. Kastner told me in his e-mail message: "We'd love to see open dictionaries gain more acceptance and compete with traditional copyrighted sources, the way Wikipedia has done with encyclopedias."

Mr. Kastner asked me the following question, which I'll pass on to you: What other types of tools or games do you think would be helpful for English-language learners?

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