There are different ways of learning languages, and there are various individual preferences. This post is focused on English, but probably some of the tools could be adapted to other languages as well.
Testing a text vocabulary extractor and combining it with machine translators and their text to speech functions
Expanding on the idea of translation and learning the English language, one thought was to take the Prayer of the Soul and enter it into a vocabulary extractor. The webpages I found did not transform the text into all the words, but certainly enough for a start. In this post, I first work with a text, and I chose the Prayer of the Soul, then the vocabulary of the text, the pronunciation of the individual words and finally the reading of the whole text.
The text from the Prayer of the Soul:
"The Prayer of the Soul"
Oh Divine Cosmic Mind
Holy Awareness in All Creation
Carried in the heart
Ruler of the mind
Savior of the Soul
Live in me today
Be my Daily Bread
As I give bread to others
Help me grow in knowledge
Of All Creation
Clear my eyes
That I may See
Clear my ears
That I may hear
Cleanse my heart
That I may know and love
The Holiness of True Existence
Divine Cosmic Mind
Using a vocabulary extractor
When entered into the Visual Thesaurus VocabGrabber
the POTS text becomes a list of words, with a link of the words that allows one to look them up in the dictionary to the right. In the example below, I chose the word "soul".
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Notice that one can order the words in different ways. As you can see in the image above, I chose to order them alphabetically. If one copies the words into a document, enters commas and clears the hyperlinks one gets:
all, awareness, bread, carry, cleanse, clear, cosmic, Creation, daily, Divine, ear, existence, eye, eyes, give, grow, hear, heart, help, holiness, holy, in all, know, knowledge, live, live in, love, may, mind, other, prayer, ruler, Savior, see, soul, today, true
Instead of entering commas, one can just press enter for a new line and get a column:
If one gets in the habit of using an extractor, one could select the new words and add them to a separate list, write them down, etc. There are several options.
Using machine translators to generate word translations and listen to the pronunciation
One can learn the meaning of the words and hear them spoken, even if it may not always fit, if one enters the list of words in a machine translator and use text to speech function. Various machine translators are easily available if one is online. When one enters a list of words in a column, the words in the translation also appear in a column, but only one-word translations for each and of course one can not be sure that a word with many meanings is translated correctly for the context one has in mind. For a better translation of a particular word, one would need to enter it in the translation field alone or look it up in a dedicated dictionary.
Reviews of the text to speech function of various machine translators
Below are short reviews of Baidu, Bing, Yandex, Google and the Microsoft Translator App when tested using the words and the text from the Prayer of the Soul. One main difference between the machines is the pronunciation of the phrasal verb "live in" as it is done in the Prayer of the Soul. The Bing, Microsoft Translator and Google pronounced "live in" in the present list of words, as if "live" was an adjective or an adverb. To compare for yourself, one can take as a benchmark, the pronunciation of "live" as a verb, an adjective and adverb in the online Cambridge English Dictionary
The voice was of a female and the accent was American, even if I wonder whether the speaker has a subtle Chinese vocal substrate? The words are slowly and clearly pronounced. One can read along with the reader. The Baidu page is difficult to navigate if you wish to go beyond the basics of being able to translate the English into Chinese or listen to the English pronunciation. To fix this problem you need to have the page translated using a plugin that in some browsers is embedded as a standard, like in the Yandex browser I used. Here is an image of what it looked like after translation, so that you know the layout.
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When I entered the whole POTS text, the pace and pronunciation was surprisingly pleasant. In this particular test, the reading ended up as being the overall best. There are by the way very many languages to chooce from, and if you wish a paid and professional service they have a whole townful of 13500 translators ready to go.
Bing Microsoft Translator
The voice was of a female American. The words were clearly and fairly slowly spoken. The speaker icon is at the top. One can read along with the reader. When I entered the whole POTS text, the "live in" error persisted, the pace and pronunciation was overall acceptable.
The voice was of a female American and was more distinctly American to a European ear than the voice on the Bing Translator. The words were clearly spoken. One can read along with the reader. When I entered the whole POTS text, the "live in" error appears, even if it was absent when the words were read from a list. The pace and pronunciation was overall acceptable. The reading was a little faster than the Bing translator. Unfortunately, the voice reader only allows for about 305 characters according to the test. There are 110 more in the POTS.
The voice was that of a British woman when I loaded the page from Europe. The speaker icon is at the bottom of the dialogue box. As a helpful feature, the first reading was fast without stops, while the second reading was slowed down to perhaps 50 %. However, it would take practice to read along with the reader, even when it is slow, but the voice is nice if you wish to practice speaking English with a British accent. When I entered the whole POTS text, the "live in" error persisted, the pace was overall not pleasant.
Microsoft Translator App. The app needs to be downloaded. The voice was of a male American. The words were clearly and fairly slowly spoken. The speaker icon is at the top. One can read along with the reader. It is a little faster than the online version. When I entered the whole POTS text, the "live in" error persisted, the pace and pronunciation was overall not pleasant. Still, if it is a matter of the pronunciation of just a single word, this app and any of the other services will be good enough most of the time.
There is a potential for language learning by using a text vocabulary extractor. It may require a bit of editing, and even supplementary applications like machine translators with text to speech functions. For text reading in English, there is little doubt I would return to Fanyi.baidu.com, which really surprised me. One disclaimer to add is that the text for this test was limited, only 415 characters. One would need to test the machine translators using a wider variety of texts and vocabulary before deciding which is the better among them.