Browser Add-ons for Foreign Language Translation and Support

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We all have our favorite websites, those go-to destinations where we take our browser on a regular basis. In addition to the usual stops, many Web surfers will also do some exploring from time to time_ catching the next wave to sites they've never visited before. Some of this searching may be targeted, while other times we may just stumble around until we find something cool.

While it may seem like the number of Web pages available to us is limitless, just imagine how that figure would rise if you included all of the non-English sites out there. The abundance of content presented in languages other than our own is staggering, and there are plenty of free browser apps and extensions that provide translations, definitions, and other dialect-related assistance so we can truly take advantage of the World Wide Web's global presence.

I've listed some of the best below, available for Chrome and Firefox and sorted alphabetically.

man using google translate plugin on laptop
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Google Translate is a Chrome extension that quickly translates words or blocks of text by highlighting it or right-clicking on it. Full pages can also be translated by clicking on the extension's toolbar button, located to the right of the browser's Omnibox. More »

Intended to teach you English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or one of half a dozen other languages, Duolingo on the Web is a Chrome app that is essentially a shortcut to the Duolingo home page. Translations are displayed by simply hovering over predesignated words, phrases and sentences. As you progress through the training program, you can gain XP (eXperience Points) and work toward daily targets to stay on track. You are also given the option to compete against other users for a little added motivation and bragging rights. More »

The Google Input Tools Chrome extension provides virtual keyboards to allow you to type in almost any language, easily accessible with just a click of the mouse. It also offers character conversion into other languages (transliteration) as well as handwriting input for touch-screen devices. More »

A user favorite for many years now, the Flagfox extension for Firefox displays the country's flag where the server hosting the active Web page resides. Integrated with Geotool, which narrows down the location even further, Flagfox offers a diverse feature set including diagnostic tools, security validations, as well as automatic translation of the current page into the language of your choice. More »

The Readlang Web Reader Chrome extension is not only a handy translator but also an excellent companion for learning a new language, showing a word in the language of your choice either directly above the word that you click on or replacing it altogether based on your settings. Readlang creates flash cards and relevant word lists to help accelerate the learning process. In addition, the extension allows you to change the source and destination language selections from a conveniently placed menu in the upper right-hand corner, and also offers easy access to a dictionary. More »

The Rikaikun Chrome extension, toggled on and off via a custom toolbar button, provides instant translation of Japanese words just by hovering your mouse pointer. It also offers information about the first Kanji in the chosen word. More »

Through the use of Google's translation API, S3.Google Translator for Firefox provides instant translation in almost 100 languages. This powerful extension auto-detects the source language in many instances, eliminating the need to specify it. Frequently updated by a developer who seems receptive to user feedback and requests, this popular add-on even offers subtitle translation on YouTube videos as well as a Learning Language mode_ which translates a user-defined number of random phrases on each Web page into the language that you are attempting to master. More »

The Simple Locale Switcher extension makes it much easier to switch between languages in Firefox without having to change user profiles or make low-level modifications in the browser's​ about:config interface. It also includes several language packs, eliminating the need for additional downloads or installations. More »

Translate Language

Translate Language is a simple Chrome app, basically a shortcut, that loads the developer's website when launched_ providing an interface that translates the majority of text that you enter into one of over three dozen languages, selectable via a convenient drop-down menu.

The TransOver Chrome extension automatically translates a word into or from one of dozens of available languages, activated by clicking on a word (the default behavior) or hovering your mouse cursor once that feature is enabled. Optional text-to-speech functionality is also included, as well as configurable hotkeys and user-defined translation time delays. You are also given the ability to disable translation on certain websites. More »

Wiktionary and Google Translate for Firefox displays a pop-out window containing a thorough dictionary/Wiktionary entry for any word you choose on a Web page, sometimes in multiple languages. Activated through a number of user-defined methods including double-clicking on the word, hovering over it or utilizing a predefined keyboard shortcut of your choice, this extension also offers full page translations in dozens of popular languages. More »