Modern technology has made many great language learning resources possible. One of such resources is online dictionaries like Google Translate https://translate.google.com/ or DeepL https://www.deepl.com/translator.
Some people still think negatively about these tools. And it is easy to understand them. A lot of lazy translators or lazy students use such dictionaries to translate texts which they then present as their work or schoolwork – without any changes or corrections.
That is, of course, not the right thing to do. But online dictionaries can still be a powerful tool in learning English. Here is what you can do to improve your English with Google Translate or DeepL.
- Translate phrases instead of words. Very often words change their meaning when they appear in a phrase, sometimes really drastically. Such phrases are hard to understand or translate word-by-word. Online dictionaries can recognize phrases and word combinations and translate them correctly.
- Check out synonyms. Online dictionaries often provide variants of translating a phrase or synonyms to a word. Check them out! This will help you expand your vocabulary.
- Check pronunciation of tricky words. With electronic dictionaries you no longer have to try and remember the weird transcription signs: you can just type a word into an online dictionary and listen to its pronunciation. For English, which has a lot of words with tricky spelling, it can be very important.
- Check your understanding of texts or sentences. Do not be a lazy student: always try to read the text or sentence by yourself first. It will be much more useful for your English. However, sometimes you are not sure if you understood something correctly, or some parts of the text can be complicated and confusing – put them through an online dictionary after reading and see if your understanding was correct.
- Check what you want to write. When you are writing an essay or chatting with a friend on a language exchange website in English, you may not be 100 percent sure that what you want to write is absolutely correct. Here is what you can do. First, think of what you want to write and try to put it in English yourself (if you don’t there will be little use for your learning). Then put your idea into Google Translate or DeepL and see the English translation the machine suggests. Is the result similar to what you wrote? Great if it is. If it is not, try to memorize the suggested variant. Doing this from time to time can help you expand your vocabulary and improve your English writing a bit.
Of course, online dictionaries are not perfect. They still make mistakes and have difficulties translating complex sentences or abstract ideas. However, they are still a powerful tool for translating.
Using this tool correctly (and not abusing it by being too lazy) will help you learn new words, improve your pronunciation and writing and overall increase your English level.