Learn a new language while you IM.

WaitChatter is a Chrome extension for GChat that delights you with interactive vocabulary exercises while you're waiting for your conversation partner to respond.



1. If you have Google Hangouts enabled, revert to Google Chat in 3 simple steps. (You can go back to Hangouts at anytime.)

2. Download the Chrome extension and refresh Gmail. Your chatboxes should now display a learning panel. Try an exercise! more help

3. Click on the chat bubble icon on the right end of the URL box to track your progress and set your language (to French or Spanish).

About WaitChatter


What is wait-learning?

People often want to learn a language but can't find time. WaitChatter is based on the idea of wait-learning. It makes use of time you spend waiting for your IM buddy to respond to teach you a foreign language.

What language does WaitChatter teach?

WaitChatter currently teaches basic vocabulary in Spanish and French, and assumes your native language is English, but we hope to support other languages in the future.

What information does WaitChatter access?

For your privacy, this public version of WaitChatter does not pull any vocabulary words from your chat conversations, and does not log any content from your chats. It does track how many times you answer the learning exercises and what vocabulary words you have answered correctly so that it can select the best word to quiz you on next.

Because your vocabulary is stored only in your browser, clearing "Hosted app data" in Chrome will also clear your vocabulary progress.


Read more about WaitChatter in our published paper:

Wait-Learning: Leveraging Wait Time for Second Language Acquisition
Carrie J. Cai, Philip J. Guo, James R. Glass, and Robert C. Miller.
ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) 2015


WaitChatter was built by Carrie Cai and is part of ongoing research in the User Interface Design group at MIT CSAIL.

Please email waitchatter@csail.mit.edu with any questions or concerns. If you would like to be informed of future improvements to WaitChatter, sign up here.


WaitChatter isn't appearing under my chatbox.

1) Are you currently using Google Hangout? To use WaitChatter, revert to GChat:

2) Do you have chat-related Google Labs items? Using a Google Labs items that changes the appearance of your GChat could interfere with WaitChatter appearing correctly.

3) Is your chatbox maximized ("popped out" of the screen)? WaitChatter only works on chatboxes that haven't been maximized.

WaitChatter's keyboard shortcut (⌘J or Alt-J) isn't working.

You might have an outdated version of WaitChatter or multiple WaitChatter extensions. First, go to chrome://extensions by typing it into your url box. In the bottom right corner of the page, click "Keyboard shortcuts." Focus into this box, then hit ⌘J (Mac) or Alt-J (Windows/Linux) on your keyboard.

"Click to learn" isn't triggering a learning exercise.

To avoid distracting you, WaitChatter prevents exercises from triggering in multiple chatboxes, so you might already have another active exercise in another chatbox. If that's not the case, refreshing the page may fix the problem.

How can I see my vocabulary progress or set the language to learn?

Click on the chat bubble icon in your Chrome browser on the right end of the URL box.

What keyboard shortcuts are available?

This site was built by Anji Ren and Carrie Cai.