Lex OverviewLex 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.
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).
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.
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
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
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.
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
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".
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
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.
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
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.
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.
ListeningYou 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
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.
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.
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.
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):
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.
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.
graph at the right side of the Scoreboard gives you information about
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Improve your English - Intro and lookup demo
Improve your English - Intro and Lookup demo