Learning Spanish solely off the Web ain’t no myth
|The Internet is brimming with Spanish language resources|
Photo credit: Simon Law licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
By far, our favorite Spanish dictionary on the Internet. Any lookup on WordReference returns a plethora of definitions and constructs not only for the word being looked up but also all the phrases and idioms that include that word. Further, the site also supports a richly participated forum where one can discuss any word with native speakers. This helps one learn the various dialectical variants of the standard, dictionary Spanish. Try posting any question on any Spanish word in its forum and, if your experience is as good as ours, you’ll get at least one response within the first 30 minutes; and we bet you’d be better-off following these responses instead of the one thrown up by your standard Spanish-English dictionary. Take it for a spin and your Spanish will thank you for it.
Span¡shD¡ct is another of our top favorites. Other than your regular dictionary lookup, this one’s also rich in resources that are immensely helpful to every Spanish learner. For example, its articles on various aspects of the Spanish vocabulary, its word-of-the-day section, and a feature that lets you listen to native speakers pronounce words in Spanish. This website also features a free online Spanish verb conjugator, an online translator, and thousands of translation videos.
The highlight of this site is its Answers section where one can post any Spanish-related question and get answers from an entire community of thousands of Spanish learners and speakers from around the world. We have seen questions being answered in as little as 20 minutes! The community is extremely vibrant and active. This section is particularly useful when one needs help with some idiomatic expressions and their finer nuances that aren’t always explained reasonably well in the dictionary.
Google Translate and Bing Translator
By far the most accurate machine translation services available to mankind. We are naming both Google and Bing because, in isolation, they are far from accurate for all situations. Google provides uncannily accurate translations for some contexts which return hillariously inaccurate results on Bing while it goes the other way round for others. Hence, our strong suggestion would be to use them together for any translation to draw the best translation. Translating is a very silent teacher; your brain quietly continues to absorb salient vocabulary and constructs every time you translate something into or from Spanish.
Google’s continued use of its crowd-sourcing approach to improve its translation algorithm has resulted in a massive inventory of human confirmed phrases and machine translation is gaining credibility at a reasonably pace. What used to produce laughable results until a few years back is now approaching accuracy upwards of 90%!
This is where you can lookup any word for its most authentic pronunciation as recorded by the natives themselves. The best site to learn and practice native Spanish pronunciation, being open-source makes it particularly rich and useful.
What makes Forvo so immensely useful is its community-driven approach which turns it into a self-correcting, self-sustaining information engine. Anybody who has ever used Wikipedia for reference would know what community-driven resources are capable of achieving.
Urban Dictionary is the best, ever-growing reservoir of slangs and colloquial vocabulary both in English as well as Spanish. It is open to native speakers who can submit words and/or their meanings as understood in their specific geography; this means, most words have multiple entries reflecting the geographical variations in their meanings and usage. Scores of Spanish learners have used this site’s services to acquire a rich vocabulary of some of the most local Spanish lingo not taught in any classroom or courseware.
MexicoGuru, as the name suggests, is a one-stop-shop for almost anything under the sun that has anything to do with Mexico. Other than learning interesting facts about the Mexican lifestyle and culture, you can also find here a huge list of hundreds of slangs uniquely spoken in the streets of Mexico. If you wish to speak Spanish like the natives and the natives you intend to be able to imitate are Mexicans, there’s no richer resource of street lingo than this site.
Well, these are your 7 indispensable sites that should give you a good head-start with your Spanish program. However, do note that this is just scratching the surface and the Internet is full of many more such sites and resources, some well-known, others hidden for you to discover. But they are all there waiting to give you the best language-learning experience possible. Know of any such incredibly useful website that you would love sharing with the rest of us? Feel free to chime in!