Adding foreign language audio to your flashcards

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14 Nov, 2017 03:47 PM

I just came upon a very useful site if you want to add foreign language audio to your flashcards. If you go to, you can enter your foreign language word/phrase and have it spoken in a number of languages, giving you also the option to save the output as an .mp3 file. I think it uses the Google Translate program and voices.

  1. 1 Posted by WGroleau on 15 Feb, 2018 06:51 AM

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    For most languages, the voice synthesizers provided by Microsoft and Apple with their operating systems are superior in quality to Google.

    But even better, pull audio from the web of real people speaking and edit out parts you like. Many languages have free lessons and some of those have audio. For example:

    If you can't find a good source, you can post text on and someone will make an audio file for you. (Long texts tend to wait a long time to get someone willing). There are other sites that will do the same, but I don't recall the URIs.

    But best of all, find a friend or paid tutor who will not only record audio for you but actually practice CONVERSATION with you!

  2. 2 Posted by gtaus on 15 Feb, 2018 01:16 PM

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    Thank you for taking the time for a response.

    I was familiar with and have used that in the past. I have also ripped audio from language lessons and saved portions of it with Audacity to use in my flashcards. Currently, I am reading/studying a French recording of Jules Verne's "The Mysterious Island" which has a native speaker reading the entire book. So I just cut and paste any word or phrase I want with Audacity and include that in my flashcards. Anki also has a plugin called AwesomeTTS which allows me to quickly type in my word/phrase and it will use a TTS voice to make the audio file.

    So, I have many options at my fingertips. Again, thank you.

    - George


  3. 3 Posted by WGroleau on 20 Feb, 2018 01:00 PM

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    By the way, there is an open-source program called "learning with texts" which lets you import or paste in text, and study the words in it. It has options of linking audio files to each bit of text, and to output delimited files that can be imported into Anki.

    Thanks for the librivox link. I think I will find that useful!

  4. 4 Posted by gtaus on 20 Feb, 2018 04:00 PM

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    I have used Learning With Texts (LWT) and it is a very good program. Unfortunately, on my Windows 10 computer, the EasyPHPServer only works for a number of days and then stops working. I have had to reinstall the EasyPHPServer about twice a week in order to use LWT, and that really got tiresome after a number of weeks. I hear LWT is much more stable in Mac and Linux, but I have Windows 10.

    Recently, I have switched over to Foreign Language Text Reader (FLTR), a free open source program which can be found at It has its pros and cons compared to LWT. The big pro for me is that I do not have to run it via the EasyPHPServer, and therefore it is much more stable on my Windows 10 computer. In fact, it is also faster because it is a standalone program. It will even run on a USB drive so I can carry it to any Windows computer and run FLTR. Like LWT, you can click on a word and have online dictionaries pop up with the translation. You can run an audio program like VLC so you hear the native speaker while reading the text. I have set the windows size of my FLTR, VLC, and Web Browser much to the same size as LWT, so in most aspects, it works the same. Like LWT, FLTR also has import/export functions so you can share your user dictionary with Anki, or LWT. FLTR can handle longer text files, even as much as a whole 500 page novel. However, I prefer to break up the book into chapters. In LWT, it reduced the chapter to 4 or 5 sections, but in FLTR I can keep the entire chapter in one text file from the same book. The con is the FLTR is Windows only, it will not run on Mac or Linux.

    Well, both LWT and FLTR are great programs and worth mention to anyone who wants to increase their foreign language reading.


  5. 5 Posted by WGroleau on 21 Feb, 2018 04:26 PM

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    Sounds pretty good if you have the misfortune of running Windows 10. :-)

    I used to run LWT in a subdirector of my website, but now I run it on my Mac. It seems surprisingly slow, considering that it doesn’t have to pass data over the net (except for the dictionary lookups).

    I don´t find the Anki export very useful, because my Anki decks typically have several card types and five or more fields per note.

  6. 6 Posted by gtaus on 21 Feb, 2018 06:13 PM

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    Yes, I found that LWT in Windows 10, when it did run, was slow even though it did not have to pass the data over the net. The more texts I had in the LWT database, the slower the response. FLTR is much faster.

    I am mainly doing extensive reading (reading for pleasure), and therefore am spending less time using Anki because my goal is to absorb vocabulary through pleasure reading, not flashcard study. I'm not preparing for any tests.... Like you, my Anki decks I do use have many more fields than the LWT or FLTR export. I came to a point in my limited time for foreign language reading that I preferred to actually read the books, and not spend all my time working on flashcards. I wish I had Anki back in my college days, but now I'm just reading for myself, for fun, and my time is too limited.

    I also recently overcame my fear of not understanding every unknown word in my target language. When I got to the point where I was comfortable to not look up every word, my pleasure reading increased. Using LWT/FLTR helps in when I look up a unknown word that is important to the story, I only have to do it once and it will flow through the rest of the book. As a former languages student in college, I had the habit of forcing myself to study every unknown word and every twist of grammar. Extensive reading has helped me to break through those barriers and I now can relax and just enjoy reading without having to know 100% of everything.

    Thanks for your comments. It is nice to know that others share similar challenges with software, etc....


  7. 7 Posted by WGroleau on 22 Feb, 2018 12:00 AM

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    Congratulations on finding an important key for language. Yes, I read a novel in Italian, only understanding about a third of the words. But that was enough to enjoy the story.

    However, I still use Anki a lot to get to that level for a new language.

  8. 8 Posted by ZapBeeb on 25 Feb, 2018 03:55 PM

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    Regarding running PHP on windows 10, if you check Bitnami i think they have a free WAMP stack on which (if i understand correctly) you could run LWT

    About not needing to understand every word i found i was getting too used to that, and had to introduce anki to memorize new words.

  9. 9 Posted by WGroleau on 25 Feb, 2018 11:28 PM

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    Frankly, I am glad I retired before the everyone went to Windows 10. Having had to use Windows at work for almost my entire career (software engineer), I am convinced that the first one that was any good was Windows 2000, and the last one was Windows 7. MacOS comes with Apache and PHP ready to go, and adding MySQL was trivial. (They used to come with that, but somewhere along the way, Apple made the strange decision to give us SQLite instead.)

  10. 10 Posted by gtaus on 26 Feb, 2018 02:43 PM

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    Thanks for the response, ZapBeeb. I will look into using other options to EasyPHP if/when I decide to use LWT again. I am told MS also has their own developmental server, which makes me wonder if that is why my EasyPHP server seems to mysteriously stop working after a few days. For now, Foreign Language Text Reader (FLTR) does everything I want and does it faster than LWT, plus, I can carry all programs and files on one USB flash drive and use it on any Windows computer.

    As to not understanding every word I read, I am finding that it is enough for me to look it up once in FLTR and then cursor over the word for the definition if it comes up again. If the same word comes up a few times in the story, I find that by the third or fourth time I don't even need to use the cursor lookup anymore. So, I have stopped using Anki for the time being, and am just concentrating on reading material for pleasure. Anki is another great program, but I am no longer studying for tests, so I felt my time in Anki was taking away my limited time I do have for pleasure (extensive) reading in my foreign language.


  11. 11 Posted by gtaus on 26 Feb, 2018 02:58 PM

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    All my computers have Windows 10, and, IMHO, Win10 is the best OS platform MS has offered. That is not to say that I don't have issues with Win10, such as my EasyPHP Server stops working every few days, etc... But I think I started with Windows back in DOS v2.0 days, so I have seen good and bad OS releases by MS.

    I have a friend who uses Linux, and he claims it is more stable than Windows, but he also has problems with LInux programs from time to time.


  12. 12 Posted by ZapBeeb on 04 Mar, 2018 03:00 PM

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    Yes, Windows 10 is a good one.
    They started badly with windows 8 trying to foist the modern interface on the users, but they got the message and backtracked.

  13. 13 Posted by WGroleau on 04 Mar, 2018 04:50 PM

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    Maybe. I once described it as "Microsoft takes spy-ware to a whole new level." My niece's husband who still works in I.T. agreed, saying that every time he installs one for a customer he spends about thirty minutes turning stuff off.

    Even on earlier versions, when I worked in health care, I had to be quite meticulous about catching errors, because when the little box pops up for an unhandled exception and asks the user to send a report to Microsoft, clicking OK on it is a violation of patient privacy under U.S. law, and the fines are very high.

    I agree though that Win 8 and Vista were worse (in terms of usability). I had a class once in a Microsoft building, and their people couldn't make Vista work right. And I bought a Win 8 laptop for a blind friend, but enabling the visual impairment features screwed up so much that the only way to tun them off was to reinstall the entire system.

  14. 14 Posted by gtaus on 04 Mar, 2018 11:10 PM

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    Well, for anyone still reading this thread, just let me say that I really like LWT but in my Windows 10, for some reason, I have to reinstall EasyPHPDevserver every 3-4 days. I switched over to FLTR, a standalone program, and it has worked without any problems for weeks. Both programs have advantages, but for now, I expect I will be just using FLTR with my Windows 10 computers.

    FLTR is considered a finished program and there have not been any updates for years. As far as I can tell, there is no support for FLTR. On the other hand, it just works. Unfortunately, it is a Windows only program.

    LWT is also mostly a program without any continuing development, but at least there is a support forum which appears to be a direct line to the programmer who does respond to questions. He had to rewrite the entire Windows installation instructions when I told him that LWT would not run on Windows 10 with the previous instructions written for Windows 8. I believe the programmer of LWT runs his system on a Mac, and uses a virtual box for Windows. He really does not know why EasyPHP gets blown out every few days on my Windows 10 machine and therefore LWT can no longer run.

    I don't know where the future of these type of reading programs will go, but I would really like to see the ability to add pictures to the text. When I use Anki, I am using more and more pictures on my flashcards. I have read in a number of books that using picture flashcards is a more natural way of learning new vocabulary in a foreign language. After reading my Jules Verne novel "The Mysterious Island" in French, I was thinking that pictures, to go along with the descriptions of the flora and fauna he was describing, would have been most valuable. Especially since I did not know those tropical plants and animals in my native English. I found I had to look up a number of words in Wikipedia or Google Images just to see what it was because I had never been exposed to those things in English. Would it not be great to have the ability to associate a picture along with the translated word to unknown vocabulary in those reading programs? And then export all to Anki if needed/desired? For me, it would have been great to hover over an unknown word and have an associated picture pop up along with the English translation.


  15. 15 Posted by gtaus on 04 Mar, 2018 11:17 PM

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    And to bring this discussion back to the original post, my advanced Anki cards use as much foreign language audio and pictures as I can find and I try to less and less English on my cards.


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