Lex Overview

Lex has two main windows, an upper and a lower one. The upper one is used for reference material, like dictionaries and grammars and the lower one is used for the language texts that you work on. Each main window consists of several tab windows, which make it easy to access a lot of information concurrently. Each tab window is a web browser in itself and can either be used to access web pages on the Web or on the hard disk.
In this example, this upper main window contains 11 tab windows, of which the second one is visible showing the dictionary site WordReference.com. The others contain the Lex home site, dictionary and grammar sites, a thesaurus, Google, Help, and Hover Help. Each one can be activated by a click of the mouse.
This lower main window contains in this example 8 tab windows, of which the third one is visible showing the New York Times site. Each of the other sites can be activated by a click of the mouse. They are the Lex home site, the Times Online, CNN, Lonely Planet, Essays and Dialogues, a Lyrics Search Engine, and Help.
The two small windows on the left side are used to access web pages which have been saved on the local hard disk (Files tab) or to navigate to sites that have been saved as Favorites (Favorites tab) or to re-access previously visited sites (History tab).

Lex Sessions
Lex can easily be set up for studies of different languages just by changing the web sites that are accessed. Such a setup is called a Lex session. In the above example Lex is set up for studying English. In this site's Sessions section there are many examples of Lex session definitions with different target and source languages.
For example, there are sessions where English is the source language and French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese and Russian are the target languages and there are plenty of sessions where English is the target language with various source languages. If you access this site's Sessions section in a Lex tab window you can start sessions from there.
These sessions should be looked upon as examples. It is fairly easy to set up your own sessions either from scratch or by modifying the supplied sessions. What you need to find on the Web are dictionary sites, grammar sites and of course material to work on in the form of ordinary web pages.
 

Lookup

One Click Lookup
To look up a word on a web page you just click on the word. This one click will cause the word to be looked up in a number of dictionaries depending on how the session is set up. If you are running the session that is used as an example in the Overview section, it will be looked up in three dictionaries. The lookup results show up in the upper main window where the first tab window shows the result of "WordReference.com". The second tab window shows the result page from "The Free Dictionary" and the third tab window shows the result of the lookup on the Merriam-Webster site.
 
Right Click Lookup
If you right-click on a word on a web page and select "Look up in", as in the snapshot below, you will get a popup menu that shows all the sites in the upper and lower main windows that have input fields, i.e. sites where you can do lookups and searches. By selecting one of them you will "drop" the clicked on word in the input field of that site and a lookup will automatically be started. You can, as you can see, also select "All primary" which will perform a lookup in all the sites in the list that are defined as primary. That is exactly the same thing that happens when you just click on the word. If you want to look up a word that is part of a link you can not click on it, because that would make you go to the page that the link points to. Instead you should right-click on it and select "All primary" from the popup menu. You also have the possibility to do a lookup in all the listed sites by selecting "All".
 
Hover Lookup
If you hover with the mouse over a word in the text the word will be looked up in your own Glossary and the result will be shown in a small popup window.
 

The Glossary

Lex gives you the possibility to create your own Glossary, in which you can build up a collection of words that you want to work on. If, for example, you have looked up the word "interlocutor", while using the session that was used as an example in the Overview section, you will have the results in the three first tab windows of the upper main window.
You can then right-click on the looked up word in, for example, the first tab window and select "To Glossary" and then "Main Entry". This will transfer the word "interlocutor" to the Main Entry of the Glossary and the Glossary will show up at the left side of the screen (see below).
You can type directly into the input fields of the Glossary or you can select text in a tab window and transfer the selected text to the proper field by means of the "To Glossary" popup menu.
As a result of a lookup, you would normally have several tab windows containing lookup results, both from monolingual and bilingual dictionaries. Select pieces of text from different tab windows and transfer them to the proper Glossary field by means of the "To Glossary" popup menu. As you can see, the entries in the popup menu correspond to the fields in the Glossary.  
Speech
By clicking on the small white speaker you can listen to the pronunciation of the current word produced by an artificial voice. This works only for English, if you want to use this function for another language than English you have to install a voice for that language (see Listening below).
Some dictionary sites have speaker buttons that you can click on to listen to pronunciations. If you right-click on such a speaker button you can transfer the sound to the Glossary by selecting "Speech" on the popup menu. The saved sound will show up as a yellow speaker next to the white one. You can then click on it to listen to the saved sound.
 
Part of Speech, Learning Context and My Category
The words that you enter into the Glossary can be categorized in terms of Part of Speech, Learning Context and My Category. Just select a category from each one of the drop down lists. Lex comes with Part of Speech samples for English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish as well as one sample each for Learning Context and My Category. These supplied sets of categories are just examples and you should modify them to meet your own needs. These categories can later on be used to work on selected parts of the words in the Glossary.
Extended window
Click on the "Show All" button to extend the Glossary window. The extended window contains a list box that shows all the entries in the Glossary. From the extended window you can also select the Glossary entries that you want to work on and set up the predefined values for Part of Speech, Learning Context and My Category.
You don't have to use all the entries in the Glossary. Use as many or as few as you want to.
 

Listening

You can listen to the pronunciation of a word just by right-clicking on it and selecting "Listen" on the popup menu. The pronunciation of the word is produced by an artificial voice.
Windows XP comes with one English voice, Microsoft Sam. The Lex installation adds two more Microsoft voices, Mike and Mary. To use this function for another language than English you must install a voice for that language. You can download and buy voices from www.NextUp.com.
Instead of just right-clicking on a word you can select several sentences and then right-click on the selection to listen to the whole lot. The intonation will, in such a case, not be perfect because the sound is produced artificially. But if you use this feature to listen to only one word the intonation will in most cases be very good and will give you a good idea about the pronunciation of the word.
 

Marking

You can highlight words in the text you are studying by various color markings. Different markings can be used to distinguish words from one another, i.e. you can highlight verbs, adjectives, looked up words, etc. To mark a word you just right-click on it and select "Mark" and then select your marking of choice.
In this example the word "convergence" and the word "cite" has already been marked and the word "public" is about to be marked. You can also mark several words in one stroke by selecting a part of the text and then right-clicking on the selection.
The Mark Set used in this example contains, as you can see, three unspecific marks, one mark for looked up words and six marks for various Part of Speech categories. This is only an example. The Mark Set is fully customizable. You can define your own Mark Sets and you can use different Mark Sets in different situations. Color markings can be activated/deactivated by the "Highlight On/Off" command.
 

Text Exercise

If you have a web page with a number of marked words (see Marking above) and you click on the Exercise button on the toolbar and select Create Exercise on the popup menu a Text Exercise Setup window will open in the upper main window as in the example below. By checking and unchecking the check marks in that window you can switch the highlighting of the marked words on and off and you can turn the marked words into gaps and thereby creating a fill-in-the-gaps exercise also called a gap filling or cloze exercise.
 

When you click on the Start button to start the exercise the Text Exercise Setup window will be replaced by a Scoreboard window as you can se in the next snapshot. Then you just have to fill in the gaps and for each gap you will get feedback in the Feedback section of the Scoreboard. If you need some help you can get that from the Aid section and you will naturally get your score from the Score section.  


 

Glossary Exercise

You can generate your own Glossary Exercise from all the words in the Glossary or from a selection of those words. If you click on the exercise button on the toolbar and select Glossary Exercise on the popup menu a Glossary Exercise Setup window will open in the upper main window and a page that later on will become the Glossary Exercise will open in the lower main window. The Glossary Exercise Setup page looks like this:
When you click on the Create button an exercise web page will be generated in the lower main window. It consists of a table with two columns. The left column is titled Main Entry and contains gaps representing words from the Glossary. The right column is titled Sense or Translation depending on what option is set for the Clue item in the above window. The Sense field or the Translation field from the Glossary are used as clue items. The Start button starts the Glossary Exercise and from there on it is just to fill in the gaps in the same way as in a Text Exercise.
 

Feedback, Aid and Score

When you run an exercise you will get feedback in a tab window called the Scoreboard. The Scoreboard has three sections (Feedback, Aid and Score):
Feedback
This section gives you visual feedback after you have filled in a gap. The small triangular arrow at the bottom of the feedback graph gives you the number of points that you will get if you fill in the current gap correctly. The number of points you will get for a certain word is equal to the number of letters in the word up to a maximum of ten points.
After you have filled in a gap a vertical bar will graphically show to which extent you are correct and also give you a percentage figure. In this example the answer was 85% correct. The width of the bar marked by the small arrow has been reduced because the answer was incorrect. Now the maximum possible score on the next try is six points.


Aid
If you don't know how to fill in a gap correctly you can get help in a number of different ways. If the word exists in the Glossary (which is always the case in a Glossary Exercise) you can get information from the Glossary by clicking on Sense, Translation, Subentry or Part of Speech.
If you keep on clicking on First or Next Letter you will get each subsequent letter one at a time and each time the score will be reduced by one. The letters will appear in the white output field below the button.
Each time you use an Aid function you will get a score reduction. Reveal it obviously reveals the word and reduces the score to 0. You still have to fill in the gap though, and you will still get feedback, but now in the form of a narrow vertical bar.
If you click on Pick One you will get four alternatives to choose from. Just click on the one you think is correct. By using this function you turn a gap filling item into a multiple choice item. Since it is much easier to pick the right word from a list of words than typing the correct word a correct answer through the Pick One function gives only half of the normal score.


Score
The score graph at the right side of the Scoreboard gives you information about three things.
The number at the very top gives you the maximum score that you can get in the current exercise. The red line represents the maximum score that you could have obtained up to this point. The dark blue vertical bar shows the score that you have gotten so far.
The score should not be seen as an absolute measure of your performance, it should rather be seen as a rough approximation. It may, however, give you a hint about your progress compared to the last time you ran an exercise.
 

Save Web Page

A web page that you visit during a Lex session can be saved locally. It can either be saved as it is or it can be saved after you have marked it or turned it into an exercise. To start the saving process you can either go to the Save Page As command on the File menu or click on the Save Page As icon on the toolbar.
 

Searching

Lex can be used as an efficient searching tool to search the Web to collect information about a certain area of interest. Especially for non-native speakers of English, who may want to look up words along the way.

View links
If you for instance make a Google search in one of the upper tab windows Lex can be set up in such a way that when you click on a link that would normally open in the same tab window it will open in a tab window below. Which means that you can conveniently click through the links of the Google search result page and view the "linked to" pages in a tab window in the lower main window. If you find a page that you are interested in you can leave it in its tab window and keep looking at the "linked to" pages in another tab window.

Drag links
If you drag a link and drop it in another tab window or on the tab of another tab window it will open there. If you drop a link on the tab area below the toolbar, on the open space next to the last tab, the link will open in a new tab window. This comes in handy when you have a Google search result page in the upper main window. Then you can drag the links one by one and drop them on the tab area below the toolbar of the lower main window to make new tab windows open there. Then you can start looking at the first one while the others are loading.

Peak at links
If you are reading a web page and encounter a link that is an explanation of a word or a phrase and you don't want to interrupt the reading by replacing the page you can drag the link and drop it in the other main window, either on the tab of another tab window or on the tab area below the toolbar, and take a peek at it there

Save the result
By searching the Web and using these methods you will probably end up with a lot of tab windows with interesting web sites. Then you can save the whole setup of tab windows as a session. Which means that you later on can easily go back to these pages to review them or to keep on searching and add more sites.
 
 

Demonstration Videos

Since it is not that easy to understand how a computer program works from a written description of it, we will here include a number of demonstration videos that demonstrate the main functions of Lex. Currently only one video is available, but more will be added in the future.

Play this demo
Improve your English - Intro and lookup demo

   Play Improve your English - Intro and Lookup demo


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