5 Ways to get ACCURATE Translations Online

5 ways to get an ACCURATE translation when looking up words online.

So I recently got a question about looking up words online.

“How do you know if the words you look up online are accurate? It seems like every word has like 6 different translations.” – Hannah

So, yes Hannah, it can be very easy to start drowning in the ocean of language information poured out on you in the vast world wide web. But there are several things you can do to get the most accurate translation for your search. 

Here are the 5 ways to get an ACCURATE translation when looking up words online. 

  1. Look up entire sentences or phrases, not just single words.
  2. Look on a variety of different sites.
  3. Paste translation results into Google image search.
  4. Buy an actual up-to-date language book.
  5. Update mistakes as you go.

 

1.  Look up entire sentences or phrases, not just single words.

One of the top mistakes beginning language learners make. Even if you are only wanting to know the translation of a single word, use it in a sentence when doing your search. Words have many different meanings. You might pick the wrong one if you don’t use it in a sentence.

A college professor I once had said:

“The 500 most common words in English have on average 29 different meanings.”  – Dr. Tomlinson

For example – take the word take. Take can mean a whole lot of things:

  • Take from
  • Take after
  • Take on
  • Take off
  • Take a nap
  • Take it easy
  • Take advice
  • Take to
  • Take a look
  • Take advantage of
  • Take a risk
  • Take place
  • Take over
  • Take out
  • Take in
  • Take part in
  • Take turns
  • Take pictures
  • Take your time
  • Take it away!
  • Take a class
  • Take heed
  • Take medicine
  • Take apart
  • Take back
  • Take down

In order to get the meaning you’re searching for, rather than looking up “take” by itself, look up “I take back that statement.”

 

2.  Look on a variety of different sites.

Don’t stick to one or two websites. Do a google search and branch out and click on 5 – 10 different websites run by different people. Make sure to Include different types of websites also. Search websites, blogs, forums, dictionaries, translations, etc. 

The idea is to get different perspectives from different people – hopefully along with native speakers. And if you get different people saying the same thing. It’s likely the most accurate translation.  This is actually just good advice in general for researching anything.

If you do get a wide variety of different translations, it could be a regional thing that people say things differently in different parts of the world, in which case you can narrow your search to specific countries, regions, or dialects.

 

3.  Paste translation results into Google image search.

This is one of the easiest ways to see immediately if the word you found is what you were looking for – or completely not what you were looking for.

For example, when I was creating one of my videos for The Foreign Language Smart Start, I wanted to look up chest, as in a wooden box, online.  So I typed chest into google translate and it spat back pecho as the translation. 

However, when I copied pecho and pasted it into Google image search, it returned a whole bunch of pictures of men’s and women’s bodies.  I had to keep searching until I found the word cofre. And after pasting that into Google image search it returned pictures of wooden treasure chests, so I knew I was more on the right track with this one.

You can do the same thing with a regular Google search, especially with full sentences.  If you see that full sentence being used a lot, it’s probably good to go.  If you don’t see it at all, you’ve probably got something wrong. 

 

4.  Buy an actual up-to-date language book. (Such as a grammar book or dictionary)

Yes, the video is about looking up stuff online, but having a physical language book as a guide, written by experts is the best way to ensure some accuracy. If anything, it can at least lay a bit of a foundation you can springboard off of when building additional vocabulary online.

 

5.  Update mistakes as you go.

Learn and practice mistakes until you know they are mistakes, then fix them when you learn otherwise.  Don’t let the fear of an inaccurate translation stop you from learning it.

I understand and sympathize with learning something wrong and cementing it into your memory.  But if you let the fear of being wrong stop you from learning it in the first place, you’re worse off in my opinion. 

At least, if you learn something the wrong way, you still have some sort of grasp of the structure and flow of the language, so I think you’re a step ahead.

So let’s recap:

The 5 ways to get ACCURATE translations when looking up words online are:

  • Look up entire sentences or phrases, not just single words.
  • Look on a variety of different sites.
  • Paste translation results into Google image search.
  • Buy an actual up-to-date language book.
  • Update mistakes as you go.

Happy Searching!

Links

If you like this post, check out the FREE video course I made called The Foreign Language Smart Start. It was created to help you start learning your first words and phrases in a foreign language.

If you want to see the strategies from the video course put into action, check out the 28 Day Spanish Challenge.  I personally used the strategies that I teach in the course to learn my first words and phrases in Spanish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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