LWT: Learning With Text Introduction

One of the programs that I’ve recently started to delve into is called LWT which is short for Learning with Text. LWT is a great open source project created by a really cool guy in 2010. He published his LWT in 2011 as a free, open source project open to the public domain.

So what exactly is Learning with Text do for you? Its basically a supplemental reading program, that helps you dissect what you’re reading, look words up in dictionaries, save meanings and notes on words or phrases in a language you’re trying to learn. As you learn words you have a color ranking system based on how familiar the word is to you, even add audio and a versatile ability to export cards to an srs, such as anki. All of this is done inside the program and can help eliminate constant screen flipping, copying and pasting, and otherwise wasting time with juggling things when you can simply keep it self contained.

The Home Page for F3M LWT

You have a few options in getting the program on your computer. For those who do not know about programming, then I recommend the web version hosted by Benny from Fluent in 3 Months. It really is the easiest to get set up with, and will be the specific version that I’m going to post pictures from. For those who do know programming, I recommend you check out the LWT picture up there, just click on it for the link, and you can find all sorts of information on how to get it setup for yourself on LWT’s main site. Plus there is some good information, links, and guides there as well (which I’ll be linking too at the end as well). There are a few more out there, and even a few acquaintances I know are thinking about hosting more Japanese friendly versions, however, Benny’s setup is already up and running and otherwise secure. It’s also absolutely free. Thanks Benny!

Screen Shot of Reading/Editing View

A lot of people do like to compare LWT to LingQ and in many ways they are similar. LingQ may have a fancier interface, however they charge you for it. I for one am all about the free and will not be reviewing LingQ.

The following are some YouTube videos that give you a nice picture of its overall features, including one from Benny himself.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Czech Experiment, I recommend you give it a good read. He’s also a language learner who covers lots of good information out there and shares his experiences of learning Czech.

So what are people saying about LWT?

Our buddy Daniel had lots to say as he’s been delving into the program intensely in the last month.


  • The biggest pro is that you absolutely have to use this software. It’s so convenient, so essential, so awesome. Being able to use absolutely any text you want to learn makes the process more fun and more relevant to your interests.
  • Everything is integrated into one window, the text, the dictionary, and the card creator. This completely takes away the annoyance of window switching. Super effective!!
  • This is an extremely customizable tool, especially when it comes to which dictionaries you want to use (yes you can use more than one!)
  • Once you go through the text, you can read it without the help of a dictionary or furigana since it’s all inline. This helps make reading a much more fluid experience, and a great confidence booster too.
  • This self-contained text factor is especially useful on a device like a Kindle, or if you’re printing out your LWT texts.
  • The real icing on the cake is that you can export all your findings to Anki, a tool already well known in the Japanese learning community.  The terms, translations, readings, and the sentence you found it in are all included, keeping everything in context.
  • Setup can be daunting, even for the technically minded! I would highly recommend using a hosted server, such as this one (http://fi3m.com/lwt), since everything is already set up and working. It is a server based tool, so it only makes sense to use it that way rather than just running locally on your computer.
  • There are some particular challenges for Japanese, a language that does not typically use spaces between words. There are various solutions, but personally I leave it at the default setting (remove spaces and treat each word as a character) and then use the feature where I can tell the site where the word begins and ends myself.

KanjiWarrior shared a few of his thoughts on Twitter with me as well.

I like LWT, but one of the drawbacks to me is lack of built-in dictionaries, and lack of support for Asian languages.Also the time associated with preparing a text before you can read it and having to input the definitions.I have a lot more to say about LWT but hard to confine it to 140 characters. I guess I’ll have to blog about it again soon.

Lan (Landorien) also shared some of his experiences with actually trying to set up LWT on his computer.

  • installation looks intimidating but is pretty straightforward
  • i installed it on my web host and got it working without trouble
  • testing is somewhat coarse-grained compared to anki. i haven’t used it much, preferring to export terms to anki
  • exporting is easy and creates a useful deck. you’ll probably have to rearrange the card layout to suit your preferences
  • default styles make it hard to read especially for Japanese. i have a style sheet on my blog that replaces the text area font with a more readable font and changes the background to a tan colour which makes it a lot easier on the eyes for extended reading.
  • editing text while reading is annoying. you get taken to a separate edit view, where you have to scroll down to the spot you wanted to edit, and then when you go back to reading you have to find your spot again. an inline edit would be very helpful
  • i had been using mecab to parse the text, setting LWT to remove spaces but not to make each character a separate word. this however required me to edit the text wherever mecab combined two words that should have been split, which especially with names happens fairly regularly. i’ve changed over to setting LWT to make each character a separate word and adding all terms as spanning however many characters are needed. the downside of this is you don’t get an accurate count of known words, but that’s minor
  • overall despite some quirks LWT is easy to use and probably the fastest way i’ve found to go through a text, completely understand it, and collect all the words for your SRS

While I agree with some of the issues, pros, and cons, that my fellow users feel, I personally find that there is a lot of pros to the cons. Because I used the already set up site, I did not have to fuss with many settings, and getting started was pretty quick. I will admit though if you’re already well into the reading of Japanese (or any language of that matter), you will be doing a lot of prep work. That is perhaps its only absolutely largest downfall.

Various Settings you can change

In our next blog we’ll go over getting set up and how to use the program, then tips, tricks, and resources to use for LWT. So stick around to get your hands wet! Like/hate this program? Let us know in the comments below what you think about LWT!

16 Responses to “LWT: Learning With Text Introduction”
  1. Benny Lewis says:

    Thanks for sharing 😉 Enjoy your reading!

  2. Thanks a lot for creating such a detailed review of LWT! 🙂
    It’s always a pleasure to read that people like you take benefit out of my work.

    • mikotoneko says:

      I’d also love to have your name too! Just to put your name in the credit, versus just saying cool dude 😀

      • Igor says:

        Yeah, it would be nice if you introduce yourself. Who knows, maybe you’ll become a smaller version of Matt Mullenweg (WordPress).

        Don’t tell me that you are worried about the copyrights 🙂
        I believe this is completely legal software, otherwise WordPress for example would be a serious copyright infringement. Or maybe some nutcases from LingQ worries you? 🙂

        However, hats down to you for this Chef-d’œuvre.

      • In 2011 I was very unhappy with LingQ and its missing features (that has changed now a bit), so I developed LWT for my personal learning. Later (mid 2011) I decided to release it into the Public Domain. So now everybody “owns” it and may improve it, because it’s far from perfect. Even LingQ may use it to improve their product (but I don’t expect this). Or you? Just do it!

        My name isn’t important at all.

    • Daniel says:

      Benefit is an understatement my friend!

  3. vall3y says:

    Nice post. Seems like there’s a lot of potential in this software.

  4. A new alternative to LingQ and LWT is FLTR (Foreign Language Text Reader, http://code.google.com/p/fltr ). FLTR is a lightweight Java-based solution, easy to install and to use. The differences between LingQ, LWT and FLTR are summarized on this page: http://code.google.com/p/fltr/wiki/CompareSoftware

  5. Sojourneer says:

    It looks like the dictionary service (at link below) is broken, maybe because they are going to replace it. Since the service can’t find any words, the LWT just gives you whole sentences. I’m going to try again in a few days.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] I hope you’ve been enjoying the blog recently, I personally was very excited to learn about LWT because I am getting into the reading stage myself. I have been learning my kana and wanted to test […]

  2. […] 3 of the ongoing LWT posts. If you haven’t heard about LWT check these posts out: Part 1 (Intro) ; Part 2 (Guide for […]

  3. […] It can be a bit intimidating to install and use Learning with Texts, but please don’t let that discourage you from using it. I suggest you read the following blog posts about it: Fluent in 3 Months, Mezzofanti Guild, and Mikoto and Friends’ Adventures in Japanese. […]

  4. […] LWT: Learning With Text Introduction | Mikoto And Friends … […]

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  • Read More or Die! 2011

    _2011 End Results_
    Total read for Tadoku:
    __433.3 pages!__
    Placement: 115/188
    October 2011 Contest:
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    April 2011 Contest:
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    January 2011 Contest:
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    August 2010 Contest:
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  • Read Or Die 2013

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    Goal: 250
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