If you are a freelancer, like myself, who speaks multiple languages and is occasionally tasked in writing pieces in both, then you will know how difficult this task can be. No matter your academic prowess in a second language, there will always be words that you come across and don’t know how to translate, or grammatical constructions that you are slightly unsure of.
In the world of freelancing, it is important to make sure your articles are perfect, in which case the grammar and spelling must be spot on. As a Spanish freelancer, I often write in Spanish as well as English and also translate, and thus I have found some helpful online tools to help me when I come across something tricky.
First of all, I would suggest avoiding Google Translate. Although it may give you a correct word, Google’s algorithm is not very efficient when it comes to translating sentences. Sometimes it spouts out an incorrect word order, messing up a sentence completely, and sometimes – given that Google Translate cannot process context – it slots the wrong word into the sentence. For example, in English, the singular and plural forms of the word “fish” are the same, but this is not the case in Spanish; Translate cannot understand which form of the noun you are wanting to use, and so it may give you an incorrect translation.
This moves us onto SpanishDict, an incredibly useful and accurate translator tool. Again, it becomes a little trickier when translating sentences, but SpanishDict is a little more accurate on this front. When it comes to individual words, however, this website offers you a whole selection of words which might be appropriate, featuring example sentences and brief definitions to ensure that you are using the correct word for the specific context.
Additionally, WordReference is a more accurate tool, also featuring handy definitions and examples. However, WordReference does not give the option to translate more than one word at a time, unless the phrase is a well-known idiom. This can dissuade you from typing whole paragraphs in at a time, which can improve accuracy if you are someone who is tempted to do such a thing. In terms of colloquialisms and slang, SpanishDict is a better tool to use, but for a compiled dictionary of terms, WordReference is extremely helpful.
For the more traditional people out there, a dictionary may be the way to go. After all, a dictionary is a very trustworthy source that also provides helpful definitions to help you choose the right word.
In terms of grammar, there are grammar books available in stores to simplify those difficult constructions. But in addition, there are free online sites such as StudySpanish which contain hundreds of pages on various parts of the Spanish grammar system.
Furthermore, if you feel like your knowledge on the language is slipping drastically and you need a refresher course, there are also online courses you can take. For example, I teach an online Spanish via Skype to help people learn. Similarly, there are apps like HelloTalk which connect you with a native speaker of the language – it never hurts to ask!