First of all I just want to say that I appreciate the help that so many have given both here and on some of the forums I frequent. I have only done two audio files for the Correct My Spanish page and I have had lots of great help already. Thanks again and keep looking on the page or on my twitter feed on the right hand side for new audio file uploads. Today I thought I would talk about one of the most useful things a language learner can use and that is the dictionary.
You read the dictionary?
Of course I don’t “read” the dictionary, but the dictionary is one of the most important tools you can have in learning a language. Most of the time, one dictionary is not enough. When I was in Thailand I had 3 dictionaries. The most used one was my SE-ED Pocket English to Thai dictionary. This allowed me to have those quick study ups on essential vocab I would need, just before I would walk into a situation. I also had two other Thai-English dictionaries. They both emphasized different things and I would get a different nuance of the word and how it was used, not just in that sentence, but in many different types of sentences as well. I still have all three in my possession. They almost become your friends.
What do you use for spanish then?
With the web and large advances in Translation tools, I don’t use a physical “dictionary” like when I was in Thailand. I do, however, use a couple of website that are extremely useful. Most people would assume that I use Google translate, but they are wrong or at least kind of wrong. The main website I use is SpanishDict.com. This website has many features. The two features I use the most are the translation feature and the conjugation tool. Translation feature uses Google translate, Microsoft translate, Prompt and SDL. Each one will translate slightly differently and give you a better idea of the meaning as well as other ways of saying the same thing. These tools are not perfect, I would always double-check any phrases you find in there with an real human, but still it is very useful as a tool. The conjugation tool is also wonderful. I very much enjoy the simple table it provides so I can quickly look up the conjugation of any verb.
Besides SpanishDict.com, I also frequent wordreference.com. They have a dictionary feature and a conjugation tool as well, but they are different in that they also have heaps of forum advice to back it all up. you can look up a phrase and maybe get a gist of its meaning, but then you can go to the forums and often times get much deeper understand of the phrase or word combination that you are looking up.
The third website I use is not actually a dictionary website, but it’s still related. Fluentin3months.com has a learning with text link. There you can set up a free account that will let you copy and paste text documents into an online tool that will then let you not just look up the words of phrases you are trying to understand, but then create a SRS flash card export for Anki to help you memorize those words. If you go to this Fluent in 3 months post about it, you can get much more details on how to use it.
What about when you are away from you computer?
Besides those websites, I also have a few Apps that are on my Ipod Touch that I use religiously. All of these apps are free which makes them even better. The first is SpanishDict.com’s Free Ipod App . This works offline, but then links you to online website if you have an internet connection. The other app is Word Magic compact edition The full version is not free, but I haven’t found much that this compact can’t do, at least for the level I am at. I also use an app called ConjuVerb. This is a verb only tool, but very quickly shows all possible conjugations of any verb. This and Google translate’s app are the only two apps I have that lets you search the spanish verb without having to use the infinitive form. It also works offline as well. The last is Google’s translate app. It most of the same functionality, just in an app form. This one is great for all of its famous for, but its only down side is that it does need an internet connection to work.
There you go there is my list of dictionaries I use. Do you use any others. Any other resources that would be beneficial? Just put it in the comment section below.