3 Spanish online dictionaries to enhance your knowledge

There are a number of great tools out there to assist you with language learning. Here are the 3 main dictionaries I’ve used over the years to help with my Spanish, and why I think they can be useful for language learners at any stage.

WordReference

This is always my first port of call whenever I need to look up what a word means or find out how to say something in Spanish. It has improved greatly over tim and now includes a great range of uses for each word.

One great feature is that it tells you which Spanish-speaking countries words are used in. This can be great if you want to learn the vocabulary of a particular country, or to know what to use at school (it’s usually best to stick to the words used in Spain for anything to do with school, as this is what is taught).

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Another great aspect is the WordReference Forum. For any word you search for, there will also be a list of forum entries where people have asked about the usage of certain words or phrases. Some words have very specific meanings in certain circumstances, so this can be a great place to look.

A final feature that people may find useful, especially at an early stage of learning, is that WordReference can give you the full conjugations of verbs in all tenses and moods.

Linguee

On Linguee, type in a word you want to know the translation of, and it scours the Web for sites that have this word in both English and Spanish translations of their page, giving the full sentences the word is used in for both languages. In this way, you can see the different ways a word can be translated in different contexts.

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Diccionario de la lengua española, RAE

This is a lesser-used site, but one that can be extremely useful in finding out the various meanings of Spanish words. Unlike the previous two sites, this dictionary by the Real Academia Española is only for the Spanish language, and all of the definitions are given in Spanish too – there are no English translations, which can make this difficult to use if you don’t have a good grasp of Spanish. However, if you do this can be a fantastic tool, and one which I find particularly useful when doing translation work.

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Beyond this, simple searches on Google can often bring up forums that have the information you need. Just always be careful to look at a few to find consistent answers, as some people might say things which are inaccurate or use words only used in certain countries, meaning you may not be understood.

Babbel: leading the way in language-learning for beginners

When you are about to learn a new language it is very difficult to know where to start. At school we go through topics and grammar one by one, and we’re provided with a lot of resources. But when you’re starting off alone, it’s impossible to know what to tackle first, what order to do things in and how much time to spend on anything. Today I’m going to speak about Babbel, the company solving all these problems for you.

This is a language learning company providing courses in 13 languages, covering all the main European languages and some more niche ones too such as Bahasa Indonesia and Danish. The focus of their courses is to make sure that from the start you learn words and phrases that can be used in everyday conversation instead of just learning all the vocabulary that relates to a particular topic at the same time, which I think is vital to promote in language learning across the board.

You are able to choose the lessons which most interest you and aren’t forced to complete a particular sequence. This means that if you want to you can complete every lesson from the initial beginner’s course until the end, or you can pick those you think will contain the phrases you need to know, especially useful if you are pressed for time before travelling to a country where your chosen language is spoken.

They also put a huge focus on making sure that the lessons don’t demand too much on your time. Each lesson is crafted to be 15 minutes on average, meaning you can slip a lesson into those small gaps of time you have throughout the day and come out of it that bit wiser.

I really like how in each lesson there is a mixture of learning new words, explanations of grammar points, practising this grammar, listening exercises and also speaking practice, meaning the lessons are kept exciting and fresh. The speaking practice, where you’re made to repeat words after hearing a native speaker say them, is fantastic for helping with pronunciation, because if you don’t say it correctly you have to continue trying, and this is something which most other services are unable to offer.

On top of the desktop version of the platform there is also an app. This allows you to learn from wherever you are, and you can even download lessons on this app, so if you’re on the tube and without Internet you’re still able to study!

Babbel is a subscription service language learning platform where you pay a certain amount a month and get unlimited access to the lessons for the language you’ve signed up for (NB. if you want to learn more than one language at a time, you will have to pay more, but I think learning one language at a time alone is more than enough). And what’s great is you can also buy 3 month, 6 month or year long subscriptions which end up saving you a lot of money. Even better, Babbel often have deals on their subscriptions, such as when I recently got 12 months for the price of 6 for the Portuguese course I started.

All in all, this is a fantastic service and one that I would recommend to anybody starting to learn a language. Check Babbel out here!