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2.3 Resources: dictionaries and translators

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Laura says:

When I started learning Spanish, I was not sure how to choose the right dictionary. Some are marketed for beginners, and I started off with one of those when I first started learning Spanish, and then spent a little more money later on, and bought myself a more comprehensive dictionary.

Activity 1 Trying out online translators

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Go to an online newspaper or news organisation in your target language and copy a paragraph of text from a news item. Then go to an online translator, such as Google Translate, and paste the text onto the translation box to provide a translation into your main language. Look at the results. Does the text make sense?


It is probably good enough to enable you to understand what the text is about, but it is probably not 100 per cent grammatically correct. Most likely there will be some sentences that convey the meaning effectively, but may sound slightly odd, as if someone who isn’t familiar with the language style wrote them. So if you use an online translator to translate a text you have written in your main language into your target language, don’t expect it to be totally correct either.

Laura says:

I think that when you start learning a language, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using online translators without realising that the translation often contains mistakes, so this is a useful exercise to show why you must be careful.