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Subject: May Newsletter
From: Brendan Luecke
Date: Mon, 01 May 2006 21:37:38 -0400

Welcome to the May 2006 Translations for Progress Newsletter! As you may have noticed, we did not send an update last month, but we have some wonderful volunteer opportunities and two great online resources for language learners to tell you about this month. Enjoy!


This South Africa-based open source software translation project was brought to our attention as they were recently nominated as a finalist for the Stockholm Challenge Award, as well as a WSIS (World Summit on Information Society) Award for African projects. The Stockholm Challenge is a highly regarded global networking program for information & communications technology entrepreneurs, and a leading advocate in demonstrating IT’s compelling impact on improving living conditions and increasing economic growth worldwide, and was also a feature story in a previous TfP newsletter. is a non-profit organization producing free and open source software that “enables and empowers South Africans.” The organization began in 2001 with the vision on providing free software translated into the 11 official languages of South Africa, and recently completed the translation of 2.0 into each official language. Dwayne Bailey, head of, believes that major accomplishment will encourage proprietary firms such as Microsoft to place more importance on the needs of non-English speakers. He recently spoke at a Johannesburg conference, appealing to civil society to help localize software and urge proprietary firms to follow suit. Today,’s focus encompasses creating tools that help open source communities translate other programs into their respective languages.

You can help this groundbreaking mission by volunteering translation, programming, design and marketing, or sys admin services. To learn more, visit, or email

-- My Language Exchange

Featured in Yahoo Internet Life magazine and PC World, is an exciting site pioneering online language exchange. As the first site to actually host online language exchange practice, it now boasts members from over 130 countries practicing 115 languages! The site was founded on the principle that language exchange is more effective than just classroom learning or cultural immersion-it’s the best way to bridge the gap between textbook learning and real world communication. In a relaxed, supportive environment, participants can improve their overall knowledge of a language, including informal expressions and slang. The site provides and excellent way to learn the “real” spoken language from native speakers, while helping them become better speakers of your first language.

Following the Cormier method of language exchange, the site provides structured practice with native speakers in small mixed groups (2-4 people) of native speakers of two languages: half the time you speak in your 1st language, and half the time you speak the language you are practicing. This allows for equal time practicing and helping others practice the respective languages. provides free lesson-plan activities, a language exchange partner search, a club library of translations of vocabulary, fun language games, common phrases, slang and idioms, links to four online dictionaries, a bulletin board, job search section, text chat rooms and links to free over email with a “penpal”, in text chat-rooms, or in live voice chat through Skype. Beginners are encouraged to start with text-based exchanges, and intermediate and advanced students can jump into voice chat.

My Language Exchange provides a user-friendly, full service language exchange set-up with many great language tools. Site enthusiasts commonly comment how easy it is to participate in a language exchange, because My Language Exchange does all the behind-the-scenes work for you - all you have to do is sign up! To learn more or to sign up, visit


As any student of Japanese or Chinese knows, Chinese characters (also known as kanji when used in Japanese) are a headache to learn, and even more inconvenient to look up when you forget one! The logistical challenge of organizing tens of thousands of graphic characters into a reference book is of course surmountable, but you still spend an awful long time squinting and flipping pages, and even then at times without success. For those of you who haven’t lost hope, there is an easy way out – is best described as an online language resource site for students of Japanese, and more recently, Chinese and Spanish. The site offers a number of tools, but the standout is the handy “translation box.” Confounded readers, struggling translators, and students who are just tired of the dictionary, can simply cut and paste the text they are trying to decipher into the box and click. The site than prepares the text for reading, dictionary free. If you encounter a word you don’t know, all you need to do is drag the mouse over the word in question and generates a pop-up with definitions and pronunciation. You’ll save countless hours reading and translating, as long as it’s electronic of course. This function works between English, Japanese, and from English to Spanish and Chinese, and is an invaluable tool for students working with these languages.

In addition to the pop-up dictionary, offers a number of features for students of Japanese specifically. The site offers a “Kanji a day” email list, to remind help the less disciplined among us stay on top of our characters. There is also a very handy “word map” function, in both English and Japanese, which allows users to browse words, or Chinese characters, by associational meaning. This is a very useful method of building vocabulary in many languages (an example in English would be linking progress, regress, progressive, etc.) and is absolutely essential in Japanese, where characters have a range of associated meanings that are combined to form words. Simple kanji quizzes, useful links, and a “word list” function that allows you to tag words you’d like to remember as you’re reading are also offered. And of course, if you feel like to socializing with other passing polyglots, lets you create a profile for social networking. is a fantastic example of using the internet to break down linguistic barriers. The site is free of charge, offers a wealth of resources, and is probably the single most useful resource out there for Japanese and Chinese readers. Rikai Shimashyo!

-- Amanda Collins and Brendan Luecke
Translations for Progress