Nowadays, it has never been easier to translate words from one language to another. The internet is full of dictionary websites, and a variety of apps allow for quick and easy translations, often involving the use of advanced artificial intelligence. This is fantastic for getting information and understanding the text you are reading or the film you are watching at a particular moment, but does it help you learn the language?

The answer is that it depends on what you do with the translation. If you just continue browsing the internet or watching the film after translating the word, you probably won’t remember it. If you can, make a note of the word so you can record it in your vocabulary notebook, or take a screenshot so you can review it later.

One problem with translation software is that it won’t always give you the word you want, and you can check in a number of ways if the translation is correct.

* Translate the word back into the language you translated it from – do you get the same word?

If you’re using something like Google Translate, try translating the word in a sentence. Google Translate uses an AI, so it’s better at translating with a context.

For example, let’s say I want to know how to say “seal” in Swedish. I’m thinking about the animal below:

Now, if I put that into Google Translate, I get this:

If you look at the words under “seal”, though, they suggest that this is “seal” as a verb, not “seal” as a noun, which is what the animal is.

In fact, if we look down, we can see that this is indeed a verb.

However, if I put a sentence in that gives it some context, such as “A seal is a good animal”, I get a better translation:

This time, I’m pretty sure that I have the correct word for “seal” as an animal. I can put just “Säl” into Google Translate to be certain –

We have pictures now so I know this is correct, and it says it’s a noun. I don’t know why it’s put the English word in block capitals, but I’m certain the translation at least is correct.

The software we have today is a fantastic resource, but it’s even better if you use it with a little extra thought!

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