English teaching & learning! Tips, reflections & discussions!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Beyond Google Translator

On my previous post about ESP I mentioned Google as a possible resource for everyone looking for specific vocabulary. You can do what most people do, and simply Google a term for definitions or images that illustrate what you're trying to understand, and obviously, you can also use the Google Translator.

Many of my students go straight to last option, just to find out what we teachers and all the other more experienced learners already know: Google translation technology is really cool, but when it goes to more specific language things don't work that well.

A good alternative to Google Translator is a very useful tool called Linguee. Basically, it's very similar to other online dictionaries or translators. But there's one huge and essential difference: when translating a word it gives you different extracts taken from the web, so you can actually see the word in different contexts.

Here we have a comparison between these two tools: I wanted to know the meaning of  term 'piggyback'  when applied to Logistics. 

Google Translator showed the following results in Portuguese: "over someone's shoulder"; "to put". As you can see, there's no reference to transport or Logistics.

Google Translator: just the most obvious results 

Linguee results were a lot more interesting: it showed the most common meaning ("over someone shoulders"), but it also furnished the result that was exactly what I was looking for: "railroad combined transport". 

Linguee: words in context

Of course, Linguee won't solve all the problems, but it can be a very useful tool  for ESP teachers and students, translators or anyone who has to deal with specific terminology.


  1. Great post,very useful tool.Congrats,Jean!

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Bené!!

  3. Dear Jean, we have received your comment about Brazilian customs-culture article on our blog. At the moment we are reviewing this particular article and will re-publish it when its ready. Thanks for your feedback, it really helps a lot. Please keep in touch. Best - Dino Lingo Blog

    1. I appreciate the feedback. I'll keep following your posts. Thanks!

  4. Nice post! I heard google is trying to develop an algoritm to help them improve translation. One way or another we have to keep in mind is that there is always other ways to do the same thing!

    1. Thanks Flávio! As educators, we must try to make our students go beyond the obvious. Cheers!