Posted on by Ulrike Rettig

"Lea Knows" - Easy Flashcards - A Review

Lea-knows - flashcard icon of app(Updated 4/15/2018)

Do you sometimes wish that Google would automatically create easy Flashcards for foreign words you look up on the internet?

Well, here's an app that does exactly that. It's called Léa-Knows and is now available in the iOS and Android app stores.

I was happy to hear that the Léa Knows app was upgraded in February 2018 to include support for translations by Linguee - an online editorial dictionary, and search engine that indexes international websites. 

I've been using the app for several months now, at home when reading (in one of my 6 European languages) and when traveling abroad (lately to French Switzerland). When I write in a new word, the app automatically creates a Flashcard. I can then review words and phrases whenever I want to.

First, a quick look at the story behind the application in the words of its creator, Sébastien Marion, a French tech entrepreneur:

"This app was really created as a result of frustration. When I arrived in Spain, I would constantly type things into Google Translate and then forget them a minute later. In this way, it becomes hard to improve. The alternative of copying words inside a flashcard is too impractical and time-consuming when in the middle of a real conversation.

So, Léa Knows is really ideal for these situations: it works just like Google Translate (even uses the GT API), but the kicker is that it creates flashcards out of every search and you can practice these flashcards with ease when you have some free time.

The app is named after my daughter Léa, now 20 months old who is growing up with a French father, a Taiwanese mum (speaks Chinese), parents that communicate between them in English, living in Barcelona where the official languages are Catalan and Spanish. I thought that it would be fitting to name it after her."

TRANSLATIONS

Léa Knows uses GoogleTranslate for numerous languages. Linguee seems to be more limited. But for the translations it has, Linguee gives you more information. 

For Google, I counted over a hundred languages and it looks like Google cross-translates between all of them.

And, the translation function seems to be improving. As the New York Times reported on December 14, 2016, GoogleTranslate's machine-translation service had "suddenly and immeasurably improved" with Google's introduction of Neural Machine Translation (NMT).   

Linguee supports translation between seven European languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Polish, and the list is growing.

The advantage of Linguee is that you'll get more than just one translation, plus grammatical information (noun gender, adjective forms, etc.). For example, the English word "street" will give you for French: rue (f), route (f), ruelle (f).

You can easily switch back between Google and Linguee. To reset for both options, tap the yellow Tab after you've cleared the "Enter text" space.  

For a translation on Léa Knows, you pull down one Tab for the language to translate from, and another Tab for the target language. 

On the Tabs, you'll find English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese on top.Lea-knows - translate screen The rest of the languages from Afrikaans to Zulu follow in alphabetic order.

To see what one can do with Léa Knows, I tried out some translations for languages I know well and also for languages that I don't know well yet.

Words, phrases, as well as shorter sentences seem to work well with Google.

Some examples:

  • Italian: pomeriggio - French: après-midi
  • German: nicken - English: nod
  • Dutch: levenslang - Spanish: durante todo la vida
  • French: trouver - Catalan: trobar
  • English: lunch - Danish: frokost
  • English: Hello, how are you? - French: Salut comment allez-vous?
  • Spanish: creo que no - French: je ne crois pas
  • French: le petit garçon - Italian: il ragazzino
  • Italian: la Pianura Padana - English: the Po Valley
  • German: ich möchte eine Tasse Tee - Swedish: Jag skulle vilja ha en kopp te

In some cases, you just have to say "Okay I get the meaning", even if the translation is a little off.

  • Italian: sfortunato - English: bad lucky
  • German: Nachbesserungsbedarf - English: imperfections (but literally: the need to improve)

Linguee can sometimes be a "hit-or-miss affair". Of the above Google translations, only the first German-English one produced a translation on Linguee. However, it may be just a matter of time until Linguee's webcrawler finds the appropriate bilingual texts to add all of those to its database, and many more.

EASY FLASHCARDS

Lea-knows Menu screenshotThe Flashcard function is cool!

At this time, you get just the translation, no audio yet. (We understand from Sébastien that audio should be added soon.)

So for now, you'll need to find other ways to hear how the languages sound.

Every word you look up automatically creates a Flashcard that is saved in the app.

A quick tap on a Flashcard shows the translation. Slide the Flashcards to go through them.

You can easily customize how you want to see these Flashcards again.

  •  Add a star to put the card into a group you can practice separately.
  •  Add a color (there are 6) to sort by language, or to create your own recall system.
  •  Archive the card to practice at a later date.
  •  Trash the card.

You can review, relearn, and test yourself whenever you have a few minutes.

USING THE APP

Google Translate has become an automatic habit for many polyglots. Lea-knows all flashcards Steve Kaufmann, who runs the LingQ language learning site and is learning his 17th language, agrees: "I think GoogleTranslate is a tremendous resource and not only for language learners."

With the added function of creating automatic Flashcards, the application Léa Knows makes GoogleTranslate and Linguee convenient language learning tools.

There are all kinds of ways to use the app so that you can learn words and phrases you encounter throughout the day.

  • While traveling, learn the meaning of new words you see or hear.
  • Check on the meaning of words in a foreign article or book.
  • Look up words as you're writing an email or text in a foreign language.
  • Create a list of words for items you want to learn.
  • As you're talking with someone, do a quick check for a word you forgot.
  • Type in unknown words you hear as you're watching a foreign film.

I bet you can think of more ways yourself.

And, you can always choose what to keep and review, and what to discard.

This app is definitely a step into the future. Have fun, and keep learning!

Bio: Ulrike Rettig is the co-founder of GamesforLanguage.com. She is a lifelong language learner, growing up in Austria, the Netherlands, and Canada. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and leave any comments with contact or below.