Back to Silas S. Brown's home page | Chinese version
Gradint, a program for self-study of foreign languagesJump to: Setup | Citation
Gradint is a program that can be used to make your own self-study audio tapes for learning foreign-language vocabulary. You can use it to help with a course, to prepare for speaking assignments, or just to keep track of the vocabulary you come across.
The method: Gradint uses a variant of the "graduated-interval recall" method published by Pimsleur in 1967. It's like audio flashcards that appear in a special pattern designed to help you remember. The Pimsleur accelerated language courses use several techniques (they say some are patented), and Gradint does not imitate all that, but this particular 1967 idea is now in the public domain so Gradint can use it to help you learn your own choice of vocabulary.
Gradint gives only audio, so you concentrate on pronunciation. (And so you can listen during daily routines e.g. washing etc, since you don't have to look or press buttons during a lesson.) Gradint can write its lessons to MP3 or similar files for you to hear later, or it can play them itself and try to adapt to emergency interruptions. The words it uses can be taken from real sound recordings or they can be synthesized by computer. You can add words to your collection at any time, and Gradint can manage collections of thousands of words (and supports batch entry). It can also help you rehearse longer texts such as poems.
Gradint is free/libre and open-source software. The latest release is v3.07.
- Download the appropriate version:
- For Windows PCs,
download the Windows
installer and run it. (You do not need Administrator rights.)
- On Windows 7+ click the small "More options" link to reveal the "Run anyway" option (I haven't paid Microsoft to make me a "known publisher").
- There are incorrect reports that Gradint is a virus or a trojan. See my discussion of Gradint's supposedly-malicious behaviour.
- For Mac OS X, download the Mac
version, unpack it, and open
Gradint. Should work with versions of OS X from 10.0 through 10.14, but on 10.15 it might need permission to run from the Security settings.
- For Linux and other Unix systems (including OLPC laptops, NAS
devices and the Raspberry Pi), download
version, do tar -jxf gradint.bgz and
run using gradint/
gradint.py(compatible with both Python 2 and Python 3). Also install
python-tkpackages if possible.
- For Windows Mobile (6.0 or earlier) install PythonCE, install gradint.cab and run Setup in the gradint folder. (This will also install eSpeak, and some scripts to read the clipboard. It will run faster if you have a RAMdisk.)
- For Nokia/Symbian S60 phones, install
(those links are for 3rd edition phones; for other editions google it),
unpack gradint-S60.zip into the phone's
pythonfolder, open Python and run script
gradint.py(I also have some Python utilities for S60 phones by the way).
- For Android phones, install the old version 1.2.5 of QPython and disable Play Store updates on it (as version 3.0 is broken, especially on Android 4.x). Unpack gradint-android.zip into
com.hipipalon older versions), and optionally set QPython's "default program" to
gradint.py(or if you have SL4A+Python, use
- For RISC OS 4, download
RISC OS Python 2.3 (via Internet Archive)
shift-click to open
or click to run. For RISC OS 5 use Python 3.8 and edit
Python3; install eSpeak if possible.
- Alternatively, use Gradint Web edition with any browser. You can set up your own server with the Unix version (above) and the server scripts (also includes scripts for email-based service).
- For Windows PCs, download the Windows installer and run it. (You do not need Administrator rights.)
Tell the program which language you
want to learn. On most systems, Gradint will show a
GUI which lets you
A more technical way to do it is to edit
- Give the program some words and phrases to teach. This can be any combination of real recordings and computer-synthesized words, and you can always add more later. You can use the graphical interface (on supported systems), or you can:
- If possible, prepare some audio
prompts such as "say again" and "do
you remember how to say". These can be
real recordings or synthesized text. Some
text for English and Chinese is already
provided, but if you won't be using a speech
synthesizer you can download sampled English
prompts. For any other language you
should ideally add your own; for details of how
to do this, see
promptssubdirectory of the
You can do more advanced things if you are able to edit
For details see the file
advanced.txt (that link is for
reference only; to make changes
you will need to open the copy
in your gradint installation).
For programmers: The source code is
gradint.py which can be found within any of the downloads,
or you can
download the Gradint build environment which
contains a Makefile and supporting files for producing the above releases
from a Linux box. See its README.txt for details.
There is also an SVN repository thanks to Cameron Wong: svn co http://svn.code.sf.net
and a GitHub repository: git clone https://github.com
and a GitLab repository: git clone https://gitlab.com
and a Bitbucket repository: git clone https://bitbucket.org
A separate program charlearn can help you learn to recognise foreign characters. If you are learning Chinese, be careful of commercial computer voices.
CitationSilas S. Brown and Peter Robinson. Addressing Print Disabilities in Adult Foreign-language Acquisition. In: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCII 2003, Crete, Greece), Vol.4: Universal Access in HCI, pp 38-42. PDF
All material © Silas S. Brown unless otherwise stated.
Android is a trademark of Google LLC.
GitHub is a trademark of GitHub Inc.
Linux is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the U.S. and other countries.
Mac is a trademark of Apple Inc.
Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp.
MP3 is a trademark that was registered in Europe to Hypermedia GmbH Webcasting but I was unable to confirm its current holder.
Pimsleur is a registered trademark of Beverly Pimsleur exclusively licensed to Simon & Schuster.
Python is a trademark of the Python Software Foundation.
Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
RISC OS is a trademark of Pace Micro Technology Plc which might now have passed to RISC OS Ltd but I was unable to find definitive documentation.
Symbian might still be a trademark but I was unable to confirm its current holder.
Unix is a trademark of The Open Group.
Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp.
Any other trademarks I mentioned without realising are trademarks of their respective holders.