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How to build vocabulary in a foreign language with Google Translate

Developing vocabulary is essential to learning a foreign language. Google Translate offers a fantastic tool called Phrasebook to help you build your vocabulary. Like most of its end-user products, Google Translate and Phrasebook are free. All you need is a Google account and a lot of work.

Google Phrasebook comes as an empty box, which you fill in with the words and phrases you want to learn. Depending on the language, a basic vocabulary consists of at least a thousand words. To express your ideas fluently, you may want to exceed that number several times. Let’s review how to use this tool and discuss its strengths and weaknesses.

When you open Google Translate, you will see the red login button in the upper right corner. You don’t have to log in to use Google Translate, but the phrasebook requires you to log in. If you don’t have a Google account yet, you can create one by clicking the red sign up button in the upper right corner of the login page.

When you are logged in, set your languages ​​to and from the drop down buttons at the top of the translation text box. Google Translate does a good job translating common words. The instant translation feature is enabled by default. All you have to do is type the word in the text box. The translation is displayed in the text box on the right side. If the word has multiple translations, Google displays them below the translation text box, grouped into word classes, such as verbs, nouns, and adjectives. When developing vocabulary in a foreign language, it is beneficial to learn a few words about the same concept, especially different kinds of words.

Add translations to your phrasebook

If you are satisfied with the translation and want to save it in your phrasebook, you should click on the star in the lower left corner of the translation text box. If more translations are displayed below the translation text box, you can also save any of those translations to your phrasebook. Just click on the translation you want to save. This will show it in the translation text box. Then you can add it to your phrasebook by highlighting it. In this way, you can add more than one translation of the same word or phrase in your phrasebook.

You can hear the pronunciation of the word by clicking on the speaker’s sign in the lower right corner of the translation text box. At the time of writing this article, the pronunciation gives an idea, but it is not always accurate. Therefore, relying solely on Google Translate for pronunciation is not suggested.

Example sentences

If you press the rectangular speech bubble next to the speaker, some example sentences with the translated word will be displayed. These prayers come from reliable websites, such as newspapers and magazines. You can display some sentences by clicking the arrows in the upper right corner of the text box. Saving a few sentences in your phrasebook would be a useful feature for developing vocabulary in a foreign language. However, Google Translate does not have this functionality at the time of writing.

If you click on the example sentence, its translation is displayed below. Sentence translations and longer sentences give an idea about the meaning. However, at the time of writing this article, it is difficult to say that the results are always grammatically correct and made up of the correct words. Therefore, for longer sentences, it is suggested not to rely solely on Google Translate and to consult other sources as well.

Enter your own translations

An advantage of Google Translate is that it allows you to enter your own translations. This is especially useful if you are not satisfied with the proposed translation and want to save another one in your phrasebook. To do that, click on the word or phrase in the translation text box, enter your own translation in the dialog box, and click the use button. The selected translation will be replaced by your own translation, which you can mark for saving in your phrasebook. That way, you can build vocabulary by saving words and phrases from other sources in the same place.

You can access your phrasebook by clicking the Phrasebook button in the upper right corner. The phrasebook button has a book with a star on its cover. You can search your phrasebook with the search box above it. You can listen to the pronunciation of words and phrases. You can filter your phrases based on language pairs. You can also sort them by the date they were added or alphabetically. You can remove any of the translations by selecting its checkbox and clicking on the trash container. You can edit them by clicking on a line. That shows the translation in the text boxes, where you can edit them and save them to your phrasebook again.

Download and print your phrasebook

The phrasebook export feature allows you to use your phrasebook outside of Google Translate. This is a fantastic feature, because you can download your phrasebook, print it, and study it anywhere and anytime you want. In the top row of the phrasebook, there is a button with a grid. Click that button to export your phrasebook to Google Sheets, the Google Docs spreadsheet application. When your phrasebook opens in Google Sheets, you can edit, print, or download it. To print, just click the Print button in the upper left corner. You can download it by clicking the file menu (top left), select download and select one of the file types. You can download your phrasebook as an Excel file, as a pdf, as a plain text file, or any of the other available file types.

Google Translate has its strengths and weaknesses. However, its phrasebook functionality is a fantastic tool for language learners to build vocabulary. It is up to you to do the work to complete this tool with all the words and phrases you want to learn. However, this handy tool makes it very efficient to create and maintain a vocabulary database for language learners.

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